Lyle Thompson leading the way for Lacrosse
By Aaron Cheris
Feb. 3, 2015
Lyle Thompson is arguably one of the best athletes the University at Albany has ever seen. Thompson, a senior lacrosse player, has rewritten the record books during his three years at UAlbany so far. Last season, Thompson set a new NCAA all-time single season points record with 128 and tied the NCAA single season assists record with 77.
The last few seasons, Thompson’s older brother Miles and cousin Ty have also been on the Great Danes squad. Last season, Lyle and Miles shared college lacrosse’s ultimate award, the Tewaaraton Trophy. This year, Lyle will be without them after their graduation in the spring. The ASP recently talked to Lyle as he prepares for his final season in the purple and gold.
How important was lacrosse to you growing up on a Native American reservation?
I think when we say we’re born into the game and it’s more than just a game to us it shows how important it is to me and my brothers and basically every Native American because on the reservation, everyone tries the game. Whether your parents played it or they don’t, whether you like it or not, you try the game. If you like it, you run with it. You’re always around the game. I think that shows how important it is to us as a people.
Your older brother Jeremy went to Syracuse, why did you come here to UAlbany?
The way we were recruited. Coach [Scott] Marr did a good job of building a relationship with us and recruiting us. The system he ran, we liked. That’s something that meant a lot to us. We wanted to go to college and have fun playing the game. We didn’t want to go to college and be in a system we didn’t enjoy. To have the freedom that Coach Marr gave us, that was probably the biggest part of it.
What was the transition into college life and college lacrosse like?
It was different. Miles was already here, he was a good coach for me, an off-field coach. For me, I was prepared in high school, my senior year. High school is a whole different game, it’s a lot easier. My father always told me I had to start preparing for college in high school. I had to get rid of bad high school tendencies. Once I came to Albany, coach Marr had the confidence in me and I think that’s the biggest thing for a freshman, is to play with confidence and know your ability.
Your sophomore year, you were America East player of the year and nearly broke the single-season scoring record. What was the difference for you that season?
Coach Marr moved me to attack. He wanted me on the field at all times. At midfield, I was playing defense and tired when I played offense. He wanted me at full energy on attack so I think that was the biggest move.
Going into last season, what was your goal?
The big goal was to win a National Championship. The way I carry myself and the way I play the game is to just go out there and have fun, have a positive attitude and give 100 percent effort. That’s the way I try and play every single game, whether it’s a big game or a small game. I go out there and I give it my all. No matter how I play, I try and be happy with the outcome.
Last year, the season ended in heartbreaking fashion against Notre Dame, what will this team need to move past that going into this season?
Experience. More than half the team is returning. They’ve all experienced going to the NCAA Tournament and winning a game. We’ve got people who have experienced that. You play with a lot more confidence once you experience that. But we’re not worried about that. That’s the past.
You played for the Iroquois Nationals at the World Championships in Denver over the summer and helped them win a bronze medal. How was that experience?
It was good to experience going up against the best of the best in the game. It was the first time the Iroquois ever won a bronze medal, so that was a big part. It was fun playing there with all three of my brothers on the team. My dad was on the coaching staff. It was the first time I’ve ever played with all of my brothers on the same team. It was a good learning experience.
Last season, you were bombarded with media requests from ESPN, The New York Times, ABC News, and appeared on magazine covers among other things. What’s that roller coaster been like for you?
Being in the New York Times is big time. Everything we’re on, it was all a blessing. I’m just thankful for the game and thankful for the opportunity I have. The game of lacrosse has given me an education, the opportunity to help the next generation. I’m just thankful for everything the game has given to me.
How do you feel about being a role model for younger generations?
It’s important to me to be there for the next generation, especially within Native American communities. I know what it’s like to grow up and not a lot of kids get an education, not a lot of people want to go to school. I want to help them make the best of the opportunity they have. I like to motivate them to become better at whatever it is. Inner city, Native American youth groups, whatever it is, I try to stay around it. I try to help kids in whatever way I can.