MONROE COUNTY, West Virginia (WVVA) – Ben Thornton was born and raised in Monroe County. His ties to this community were unlike any other. Thornton was not only an outstanding football coach and athlete, but he was also a friend, a mentor and above all a father. Thornton died on September 19 after a courageous battle with coronavrius.
Many who knew Thornton, or as some would call him “BFT”, take the time to reflect on the impact he has had in his community.
“He was good at everything he did. It extended to people as well. That’s where the community will miss him the most, is that he really cared about everyone and everyone. his community. He wanted to make it a better place and he left it a better place. ” said a lifelong friend, Sam Brown.
“Everyone in his life considered him family and probably did that his whole life. It’s the contagious attitude he had and the love for people and the love for life you have. kind of made you want to be a part of him and bring him into your family. He was the family of a lot of people. ” said friend, Jeff Disibbio.
Thornton graduated from James Monroe High School, playing the running back role for the Mavericks. He finished third in the Kennedy Award vote in his senior year of high school. His talents brought him to Concord University and he made a college career as a running back.
“When Ben took me under his wing and people realized that Ben accepted me because Ben had a lot of respect for his teammates. My time at Concord changed. So not just the impact he has on the football field, but fair on the opinions of the guys. They took him and they respected what he said. I think that goes a long way. “said Rusty Coeburn who met Thornton at the university.
Thornton began his coaching career with the Peterstown Peewee and Midget Football Leagues and went on to coach in his high school alma mater. This year he moved to Peterstown Middle School to coach, but training young players is not the only thing he is admired for.
“Ben was a family and a role model. Someone you could always count on, whether you were going through a rough time or someone else was. I could be like” hey Ben, go see that kid “and he would talk to them and tell them what they needed to know or what they needed to do better. Something like that,” said lifelong friend Shari Walker Helvey.
He wasn’t just a role model and phenomenon on the soccer field. Thornton was also gifted with music, encouraging others to be as involved in music as he was.
“He pushed me to go on stage with him. Because of that, we both moved to Austin, TX. I’ve been in Austin, TX since then and started my own band. say just like Sam said he pushed him to be a better person. He pushed me too, said lifelong friend Matt Ballengee.
Thornton’s heritage is rich and varied. He will be remembered as a great athlete, mentor, friend and above all as a father and father. He leaves behind a wife and two children. Thornton was only 39 years old.