locker room

Running in remembrance

Team Thomas looks to raise money,

honor fallen coach


By Matt “It’s MillerTime” Miller


Completing a marathon has always been on Matt Stockdale’s bucket list. A former athlete at Aplington-Parkersburg High School, it’s something the former Falcon has kept in the back of his mind. Come Sunday, Oct. 18, Stockdale, and others will cross that item off the list as they run in the IMT Des Moines Marathon to honor the late Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas.

“It’s been a unique experience and something we really didn’t want to elevate to this level,” said Matt Stockdale, 29, who organized Team Thomas with his brother Justin in wake of Thomas’ death earlier this summer. “It’s been really special how many people have grabbed on and have been generous to support the cause.”

Originally Team Thomas, comprised of approximately 30 runners, had the goal of raising $10,000. To date, the team of Aplington-Parkersburg alumni, along with other area athletes, has raised more than $17,000. Proceeds will support scholarships and upkeep of the football field, as well as other causes. Officials say more than 200 donations have been made ranging from $5 to $1,000.

“After the event took place, we wondered what we could do to help out,” said Justin, 33. “We believe this is a great way to help raise money for the foundation, and it’s something Coach Thomas would be proud of.”

Preparing to run a marathon is no easy task, especially after the tragic event that took place June 24. Some team members run on a regular basis, others are picking it up cold turkey. For John Muller, Thomas’ passing has provided motivation to complete the 26.2-mile race.

“This is my first marathon, and I’ve probably not run more than three miles at a time. So it’s a big challenge, but a worthy one,” said Muller, 33, who played on the Falcon football team that won the 1994 state championship under Thomas. “I’ll be thinking about Coach when I’m running and the things he used to say about not giving up and always being prepared.”

For brothers Justin and Matt, training for the marathon has been one they’ve had to adapt to. Justin has been running at 4 a.m. before he heads to become principal at AEA 267-Bremwood in Waverly. This will be Matt’s third marathon. He ran the Chicago marathon last year and the Quad Cities Marathon on Sept. 27. Matt claims he will run the Des Moines Marathon twice if $20,000 is raised.

“I’m mentally preparing for running 52 miles,” Matt said. “I’m a little nervous because I didn’t plan on doing it. But if we raise the money, I’ll do it.”

Justin believes his brother will do it.

“There is no doubt that Matt can run the race,” Justin said. “We just have to raise a little more money, and we’ll reach the $20,000 mark.”

Parkersburg High School 1987 graduate Jan Perry-Lockett says the race will be bittersweet. Perry-Lockett, 40, who resides in Arizona, will be running the half marathon.

“I knew Coach Thomas since I was 5 years old,” she said. “It’s going to be a great race and very emotional. It’ll be a different type of race for me; I’m going to be thinking about him with each step. My goal is to come back and represent not just as a runner, but as an athlete of Mr. Thomas and a student of the Aplington-Parkersburg community.”


Locker Room Note: The IMT Des Moines Marathon includes a Kid’s Run, half marathon, 5-Person Marathon Relay Challenge and the Principal Financial Group 5K Road Race. For more information about the Ed Thomas Family Foundation, visit CV


Caption: Approximately 30 runners from Team Thomas will participate in the IMT Des Moines Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 18 to raise money for the Ed Thomas Family Foundation. Photo courtesy of Justin Stockdale

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