COMMENTS FROM THOSE THAT ARE THE LIGHT OF SHAG DANCING “Harold Bessent and Fat Harold’s Beach Club are to shag dancing and beach music as baseball and apple pie are to America. The resurgence and continued growth and popularity of the shag and beach music are due in a large way to Harold's enthusiastic, energetic, and consistent support.” —Charlie Womble and Jackie McGee, professional shag dancers “Fat Harold’s Beach Club and Harold himself have kept a place to dance for years now, for those young and old alike. There has never been someone that has loved the dance and the people it brings into his life more than Fat Harold. Every beach band wants to say that they have played at Fat Harold’s Beach Club and HOTO’s! That must surely say something about Harold Bessent as a man!” —Jeff Hargett, 2005 National Shag Dance champion “I have known Harold Bessent since I was eleven years old, and for all that time and still today, he has provided a place for the people to dance and listen to this music called beach music. He is truly an ambassador, and I thank you.” —Judy Collins, owner, Judy’s House of Oldies, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Howie “Coach” Thompson was born in Darien, Ct. on January 11th, 1949. He grew up an only child in one of the wealthiest towns in America, literally on the wrong side of the tracks. His father passed away when Howie was just 9 years old and he was raised by a very hard working dedicated mother (MarionThompson) who loved her son dearly. He attended Darien Public Schools from Kindergarten through HS and was involved in sports from the early age of 8 years old. He played baseball into the Minor Leagues and competitive basketball and softball well into his 50’s. Howie started his coaching career at the tender age of 16 with his Uncle Eddie who was his mentor early on. He quickly transitioned into Director of Umpires for the Darien Little League and Babe Ruth Leagues at 19 years old, as well as Head Coach for one of the Little League teams. By the age of 25 Howie had graduated from the University of Tampa with a BS in Physical Education, where he played baseball and football and was playing in a baseball league, 2 softball leagues and a basketball league while directing the Town of Wilton, Ct. Recreation Dept. By the age of 32 Howie had completed his Masters Degree from Southern Ct. State University and was working as a sales representative for Metropolitan Life Insurance, while coaching Football and Soccer in two separate towns, and playing for 2 different softball teams as well as a basketball league in New Haven, Ct. He organized the first Girls Travel Soccer program, The First Girls Travel Basketball program, and the First Girls Softball League for the Town of Weston, Ct. Later he would become the President and a Head coach in all three of these leagues guiding his soccer teams and the girls Softball All Star team to State and Division Championships. He continued to coach in Ct. for the next 20 years for both HS. And Travel Teams winning numerous State and Local titles in soccer and basketball In 1999 Howie moved to Durham, NC where he was the Wakefield MS boys and girls Head Soccer Coach, Girls head Basketball Coach and Athletic Trainer for this brand new Middle School. . He then went on to coach the Southern (Durham) HS Boys Soccer team, and the Durham School of Arts Boys HS soccer team as well as their Girls MS Soccer team. He was able to take the boys HS Soccer team to the Regional Championship twice, and the Girls MS Soccer Team to the League Championship twice. He also coached the Girls MS Basketball Team, and for 2 years coached the NC School of Math and Science Boys Varsity Basketball Team. From 1999 until 2006 Howie coached soccer for the Triangle Futbol Club and Directed the Durham/Chapel Hill Strikers Soccer Club. Here he won numerous Awards for coaching, including 3 consecutive Adidas/NSCAA Regional Coach of the Year awards, 2 HS and Youth State Sportsmanship Awards and in 2002 won the Adidas/NSCAA National Coach of the Year. Howie has also been elected to the Who’s Who of Insurance Executives and Who’s Who of American Teachers and Coaches. In 2006 Howie moved to Little River, SC and lives there today in the River Hills Community. He has served on the POA Board of Directors since 2009 and is now the retired President of the POA Board.