By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

Onto new horizons

Jacon Thompson’s next big shot
Former atheltics department photographer Jacob Thompson. (Photo by Erin Becker)

CWU athletics recently bid farewell to a key member of their team, Jacob Thompson, who oversaw athletics photography and was a digital media graduate assistant (GA) as part of the athletic administration masters program.

While he’s no longer at CWU, the departure comes with exciting news for Thompson as he’s just begun his new position as an athletics marketing and creative services specialist for the University of California, Irvine.

Thompson’s journey at CWU started back in 2018, it wasn’t as a photographer or graduate assistant; he was completing his undergraduate studies as a student-athlete on the track & field team. By 2022, he was ready for graduate school and was fully prepared to leave the university behind.

However, everything changed when Josh Wetzler, the associate director of athletics for external affairs, gave him a call about the opportunity to complete his master’s program at CWU and combine his love for athletics with his growing talent in digital media. Without hesitation, Thompson was all in.

“In my mind I already said ‘yes,’ so it was an easy decision to make,” Thompson said about the graduate assistant position. “Getting offered to stay in a place that I love and continuing to do the things that I love was a crazy moment in time for me.”

For the next two years, Thompson became an invaluable part of the program, bringing moments to life through his work. 

One of the final pieces of Thompson’s massive CWU portfolio was being able to capture the CWU men’s basketball team’s recent GNAC championship win, which will live on and be remembered in large part through Thompson’s photography. 

“It was insanity,” Thompson said about the victory. “It was a crazy feeling, because I knew how happy all those players were. It was such a high moment in the season for them. My main thing was ‘Okay, I’m just going to be in the moment and capture for them,’ which I think I did.”

Thompson continuously cited the people he met during his time in Ellensburg, Washington as the source of his best memories at CWU. Thompson was able to build special connections with both the student-athletes whose lives and achievements he documented, as well as his co-workers and peers who he worked tirelessly alongside. 

“I felt like I could shoot up a conversation with anybody, and that’s what made my time so special,” Thompson said. “It didn’t matter what team you were on, what year you were, how long you’d been here, if you were a freshman or whatnot. I feel like I could pick up a conversation with anybody and we could just kick it off. Those relationships were super special to me.”

When discussing what he would miss most, Thompson fondly reminisced about the quality of the people at CWU, which reflects the high regard in which he is held by his peers. 

“The people I got to work with made this experience memorable for a lifetime,” Thompson said. “There’s connections here I’m going to have for the rest of my life, and that is why I was so happy to do what I was doing.” 

When fans look back on some of the most energizing moments in athletics, it’s often through the lens of Thompson. His exit marks the end of an era for CWU athletics; as he embarks on his next journey in California, he leaves behind an impactful legacy of visual storytelling.


Below is a gallery of some of The Observer’s favorite photos from Jacob Thompson.

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  • CWU football linebacker Isaac Clark at a basketball game. (Photo courtesy of Jacob Thompson/Thompson Sports Media)

  • Rugby player Elise Norris. (Photo courtesy of Jacob Thompson/Thompson Sports Media)

  • Softball player Jillian Hampson. (Photo courtesy of Jacob Thompson/Thompson Sports Media)

  • The men’s basketball team winning GNAC. (Photo courtesy of Jacob Thompson/Thompson Sports Media)

  • Basketball player Samaad Hector leading the huddle. (Photo courtesy of Jacob Thompson/Thompson Sports Media)

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