It’s not hard to recognize the athleticism Dalen Thompson exhibits while on the baseball field. At 6’1” and 175 pounds, the 2021 shortstop out of Triton High School, clearly has athletic tools.
But what someone may miss about the recent Campbell Univiersity commit, is that he’s not done or satisfied when it comes to developing his skills – as an athlete and as a baseball player.
The clue to uncovering his intent to continue improving his game is the amount of detail he recognizes in areas he seeks to grow. Already a 6.6 runner in the 60, Thompson’s first mention when asked what the off-season activities will look like for him was, “Run. I want to run a 6.5.”
That’s how good players become great. Never being satisfied with what may already be sufficient. It also showed in how he comments his most important hitting drill is tee work.
Dalen says tee work is a big deal for him because it helps him gain consistency in his swing and allows him to know where the bat head is; thus aiding him to stay through the ball. Routinely he will take 100 swings each in tee positions of inside, middle and outside.
His Dirtbags coach in the 2019 summer, Brent Haynes, saw the tools as they intersected with his emphasis on skill development. Haynes says, “Dalen is a guy who jumps out at you with his athleticism on the baseball field. He has excellent footwork, hands and arm strength that will allow him to stay at his primary position of SS at the next level. He’s a guy that can do it all – hit, field and run.”
Not only can he do it all on the baseball field, but he also reps his school as a shooting guard on the basketball court. Thompson is able to take something from that sport to his time on the diamond. The pace of the game and the demand to play the next play without pouting if things don’t go well offers a valuable lesson. No matter what season or sport, Dalen says his intent is to play hard.
But when it came to the choice for the Harnett County native to commit to Campbell was an easy. With campus 10 minutes from his home, Thompson says the thought of family being able see his games was a huge factor. But that may have been icing on the cake as he was quick to list all the academic and athletic attributes the Camels provide. Coming off consecutive NCAA tourney appearances it’s easy to see why he wants to be a part of the direction the baseball program has taken.
Only a Dirtbag since the summer of 2019, Dalen quickly learned that he was going to be playing with and against the best. With what he referenced as “top notch coaching and instruction” he found he was able to play with the talent on the field.
He says the opportunity to join the Bags allowed him to grow in all areas of his game. By seeing better pitching he refined his swing. Defensively, he became more active. And ultimately he learned to lead and communicate on a squad competing against some of the best in the country as he traveled to tournaments in Atlanta and Texas.
Thompson said the summer was a great experience as the places, the people and the events all opened his eyes to a different level of competition. And he says, “I could play with those guys.”
The decision to be a Dirtbag was definitely a step in Dalen’s journey that made an impact. After seeing the organization from the outside, he says, “It’s even better on the inside. It’s family. It’s a good team to represent.”
From Haynes’ perspective the decision to go to Buies Creek will benefit the program beyond the diamond as he remarked, “Campbell got not only a great player but an excellent young man.”
That’s easy to see, as Thompson’s ability to carry on a conversation about himself is just as smooth as his glove skills. With no hints of pretentiousness, he often mentioned his skills as “ok” and while he notes he “makes stuff happen,” the words of Haynes again capture the situation, “He’s just tapping into his potential.”
And Thompson appears ready to find exactly where that potential can take him and his team – be it the Dirtbags, his Triton Hawks, and ultimately the Campbell Camels.