Thompsons Story Continues with Iroquois Nationals

photo by Tero Wester
photo by Tero Wester

by Corey McLaughlin

It was a few hours before Lyle and Miles Thompson would be named the first-ever co-Tewaaraton Award winners, and Jerome Thompson Sr. stood in the theatre at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., waiting and watching as his sons went through rehearsal with the three other men’s finalists and production personnel.

Asked about this whole ride his two youngest children have been on — you know, captivating the lacrosse world at large while dazzling fans with one-of-a-kind plays and humble attitudes — their father acknowledged the significant amount of attention thrown their way, but then said he thought it was good for the sport before turning his attention to what lay ahead.

“It’s a never-ending story,” he said.

The tale will continue July 10-19 at the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship, presented by Trusted Choice, in Commerce City, Colo. Five Thompsons — Lyle and Miles, along with their older brothers Jerome and Jeremy, and cousin Ty — are in the running to make the final 23-man Iroquois Nationals roster. That would be 21.7 percent Thompson.

It will be the first time in eight years an Iroquois team competes in the world championships, and it just could be their best group yet. The Nationals have never finished better than fourth in a men’s world championship, but this year’s edition could give a serious challenge to the two favorites, the United States and Canada, the only two nations to win the gold since a title was first contested in 1967.

Four years ago the Nationals didn’t participate in the games in England due to a passport controversy. Two years ago in Finland, the Iroquois under-19 bunch became the first from its program to beat a United States team in international field competition. “This is the best team that we've ever put together,” the goalie, Warren Hill, said then after the round-robin play win.

Lyle Thompson was on that team, as was budding Syracuse star Randy Staats, then at Onondaga Community College, and Denver’s talented rising sophomore Zach Miller. It easy to see now why the Iroquois gave the U.S., which avenged the loss in the medal round, a run for its money.

All three are on the Iroquois’ current 44-man training roster that will be officially cut down after a pair of tryout weekends over the next two weeks at Six Nations and Onondaga Community College, respectively.

Among those also in the mix are Cody Jamieson and Johnny Powless of the now three-time defending National Lacrosse League champion Rochester Knighthawks and Jeff Shattler of the Calgary Roughnecks. Jeremy Thompson, the first of the brothers to play Division I lacrosse, at Syracuse, played for NLL West Division finalist Edmonton this year.

Zed Williams, a rising sophomore at Virginia who broke Casey Powell’s all-time points record as a high schooler in New York with 554, is also on the training roster, as is the Syracuse-bound Hill.

“The team that they look like they’re picking this year is younger guys,” Miles Thompson said. “That’s something different than the past years. That’s going to be an advantage. There are guys that are in college now, or just got out of college. It’s a young team.”

Should all four Thompson brothers make it, it won’t be the first time the quartet played together in a competitive setting. They were on the same indoor team last summer with the Caughnawaga Indians, which won the Iroquois Lacrosse Association’s championship — Lyle led the league in scoring — and played in the Senior B President’s Cup last August in Quebec.

But to be united in a world championship setting, wearing the Iroquois uniform, will be something special for all of them.

“This is something that we always wanted to do, play together,” Miles Thompson said. “This is one of the first times to do it. It’s exciting for us.”

Not only that, but Jerome Sr. is on the coaching staff, which is led by Cortland head coach Steve Beville, an assistant with the Iroquois under-19 team two years ago. Cam Bomberry, Mark Burnam, Virginia assistant coach Marc Van Arsdale and Penn State assistant Chris Doctor round out the coaching staff.

“We’re all going to be there,” Thompson said. “That’s something that we like doing as a family.”

Miles was in Farmingdale, N.Y., on Long Island this week for an instructional clinic as he spoke, a couple days after making his Major League Lacrosse debut with the Rochester Rattlers, scoring a goal while wearing jersey No. 74. It’s the same number oldest brother Jerome dons with the NLL’s Edmonton Rush and MLL’s Florida Launch.

There always seems to be another layer in development with the Thompsons’ story. It’s not over yet.