In a span of three short months, Albany’s trio of brothers Miles and Lyle Thompson and cousin Ty Thompson have graced the front page of The New York Times and the cover of the Inside Lacrosse magazine. In doing so, they have becomes role models for the lacrosse-playing youngsters at the Onondaga Reservation in upstate New York where they grew up.
“A lot of little kids on our reservation hit us up on the social networks,” Miles Thompson said as the No. 19 Great Danes traveled to Baltimore for Friday night’s game against No. 10 Johns Hopkins at Homewood Field in Baltimore. “I don’t look it as like pressure. I just look at it as a kid who just wants to get better. So he comes to me and I’m there willing to help him out because that’s what I want to do. I want to help out the younger generations.”
The Thompsons, all attackmen, aren’t the first Native Americans to play lacrosse at the Division I level, but they may be the most talented. Lyle Thompson produced 113 points on 50 goals and 63 assists last spring and finished one point shy of tying the NCAA record for most points in a single season. The junior, who leads the country in points with 55 this season, is the leading candidate to win the Tewaaraton Award, college lacrosse’s version of the Heisman; it has never gone to a Native American.
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Miles Thompson, a senior, is tied for second in the nation in goals with 33 and ranks third in points with 50. Ty Thompson, also a senior, has registered 23 points on 19 goals and four assists.
All three players have eye-opening skills that include behind-the-back goals and passes and mesmerizing quickness. Their talent has captured the attention of lacrosse fans eager for the game to return to its fast-paced, freewheeling style.
“I think they’ve shown that you can play the game at that pace and have fun, but be serious about it and be competitors,” Albany coach Scott Marr said. “They certainly play the game at a high level and have helped our program improve to another level. They’ve been a great influence on the game. We get a lot of fan mail, emails, and every time I talk to people on the outside, everybody’s excited to watch them play. It’s fun to watch. We get that comment all the time. They’re just fun to watch because they play the game and have fun and enjoy playing the way that we feel is the right way to play.”
Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala compared the Thompsons to former Syracuse greats Gary and Paul Gait.
“When Gary and Paul burst onto the scene, they burst onto the scene with behind-the-back passes and backhanded shots and dunks and one-handed wraparounds. These guys have almost taken that to the next level,” Pietramala said. “And they’ve shown that they’re very creative. And to Scott Marr’s credit, he’s done a terrific job of allowing them to be them. I think they found the perfect place and the perfect coach for them. He allows them to be exactly who and what they are as people and as players.”
Miles and Ty Thompson were selected in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, by the Rochester Rattlers in the Major League Lacrosse draft in January and will play there. Miles Thompson said he intends to return to join Marr’s coaching staff as an assistant.
Thompson said he, his brother and cousin hope their presence has inspired Native Americans currently in high school.
“The message we’re trying to send is that as Native Americans, you can go to school and be successful and still go back to our ways,” he said. “Me and Lyle, we’re still learning our ways. We’re not going to stop learning. Lyle has two kids, and he teaches them the language. That’s something we carry on.”