January 20, 2019
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Narraguagus coach, family to be featured in Red Lobster commercial

BDN File | BDN
BDN File | BDN
Narraguagus High School girls basketball coach Heather Thompson discusses strategy during a February 2016 tournament game in Bangor. Thompson and her family recently filmed a commercial for Red Lobster restaurants.

Heather Thompson is a fourth-generation lobster fisherman. During the winter months, she is the girls basketball coach at Narraguagus High School in Harrington.

She and her sons, Spencer and Nathan, are following in the footsteps of their mother and their father, Frank.

The Thompsons, along with Heather’s father, Gary Strout, and her niece, Laney Oliver, were interviewed earlier this week for a short film and television commercial for the Red Lobster restaurant chain.

Thompson’s sister Hilary (Strout) Oliver, who fishes with her, is Laney’s mother.

“It was a great experience,” said Heather Thompson, who started fishing when she was 10. “I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with. I’ve seen some of the footage. It was pretty impressive.”

Part of the shoot took place on her new lobster boat, “Gold Digger,” which she and her family built and put in the water for the first time in August. The filming took place on Tuesday and Wednesday. They also shot some interviews at her house.

“The weather was so brutal last week. We had trouble putting the boat in the water,” said Thompson.

She explained that that Red Lobster wanted a “sentimental story” about lobster fishing involving a family that has been involved in the profession for several generations.

“When they interviewed me, they asked me about my grandfathers and my life experiences as a lobster fisherman,” explained Thompson. “And they wanted to show what happens to the lobsters after we catch them. They wanted to show the process which leads to them being served (at Red Lobster restaurants).”

Thompson said they made a short film that will run 3-6 minutes and they will condense that to a one-minute commercial that will air beginning next month on networks such as CNN.

The interesting aspect is that there aren’t any Red Lobster restaurants in Maine. There once was one in Bangor, but it closed in 1998.

But Thompson pointed out that the Thompsons sell their lobsters to Red Lobster restaurants.

Thompson has the full allotment of 800 traps allowed by Maine law and she also races lobster boats during the summer.

Her boat “Gold Digger” features a picture of a lobster holding a gold basketball on the stern, representing the Knights’ 2016 state Class C basketball championship — the first in school history.

Thompson said she hasn’t gotten paid for the commercial work, but the exposure should certainly be good for business.

She is also hoping it will encourage girls to follow their dreams.

“They will be able to see that even though this might not be a traditional woman’s job, if it’s something you love to do, do it. Don’t let anything stop you,” said Thompson.

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