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‘It felt like home’: McDaniel College alum Tom Lapato enters Green Terror Sports Hall of Fame

Tom Lapato, a captain with Western Maryland's undefeated 1997 team, is joined by his son Alex as he flips the coin prior to McDaniel's football game against Juniata on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017.

Tom Lapato played an integral role in the success of McDaniel College’s football program in the late 1990s, and he is being recognized by his alma mater for his athletic achievements.

Lapato, a 1995 South Carroll High School grad, recently joined the Green Terror Sports Hall of Fame as a Class of 2020 member.


The awards and ceremony took place virtually this year during Homecoming, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s a pleasure to get recognized like that,” Lapato said. “You know, I always look back on my athletic career, especially at McDaniel, and it was a team effort. In doing so, the opportunity to be part of a high-performing team and develop relationships that have lasted for a while, it’s redeeming of all the good things that happened back then with a number of folks that I was teammates with and still talk to today.”


Joining Lapato in this year’s Hall of Fame group are Virginia Wilson Shockley (Class of 1927), Hazel Gompf Coleman (1938), Jean Luckabaugh (1958), Sandra Lucile Roeder (1965), David Hose (2002), Drew Reinecker (2004), Thomas Kane (2005), and Diana Rosemier Humphrey (2008).

Lapato helped guide the Green Terror football team to Centennial Conference championships and NCAA tournament appearances in 1997 and 1998. As a senior, he was a third-team Division 3 All-American and first-team Academic All-American, and was named a second-team Academic All-American in 1997.

Lapato still holds spots in the Green Terror football program’s record books. He ranks second in fumbles recovered, eighth in fumble return yards, 10th in interception return yards, 11th in pass breakups, and 20th in interceptions and fumbles forced.

Thomas Lapato of Woodbine, Md., is the recipient of the Green Terror Sports Hall of Fame award from McDaniel College. Lapato graduated from McDaniel in 1999.

Lapato said he likes reflecting back on his playing days, when McDaniel (then-Western Maryland College) put together standout teams, but he’s more proud of what the Terror accomplished as a team.

He served as a team captain when the Green Terror won the Centennial Conference championship in 1997. It was the first of six in a row, he said, and that year culminated with the Green Terror beating Johns Hopkins to cap an undefeated regular season.

The celebration that ensued was one Lapato won’t ever forget, he said ― students rushed the field and even tore down the goal posts.

“That’s the college experience at a small school like Western Maryland,” Lapato said. “At the time, it was really neat and just really, really cool.”

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Lapato grew up in Mount Airy and played football and ran track and field at South Carroll. He described his athletic experience in high school as an extension of his childhood and said sports helped him develop a clear sense of organization that prepared him for college, and the future.


Lapato graduated from McDaniel with a bachelor’s degree in math and computer science and a minor in art history, according to the release. He lives in Howard County and serves as vice president of Enterprise Resource Performance, where he provides consulting services to federal agencies with a focus on performance improvement in health, technology, and defense.

Lapato also obtained a master’s degree in business administration from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s degree in national resource strategy from the National Defense University.

When the pandemic hit in March, Lapato said he and his former teammates started to keep in touch via Zoom calls and a weekend trip every so often. He is a member of the associate alumni committee and Green and Gold Club at McDaniel. He served as the chair of the Sports Hall of Fame and continues to look for ways to stay connected to McDaniel’s current students.

“I was lucky at Western Maryland,” Lapato said. "The coaching staff and the team Tim Keating was building as the coach was phenomenal … To be able to progress and be with the people that were a part of that program, it was pretty cool.

“It felt like home.”