Thompsons Win Tewaaraton Together, Wouldn't Have It Any Different
WASHINGTON, D.C. — And the winners are...
When those words were spoken Thursday night at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, Miles Thompson, sitting in the front row of a packed theatre room next to his brother Lyle, still didn't think what was happening was real. "I was shocked," Miles said, but it was what they both had hoped for.
Their father, Jerome Sr., rose out of his seat, arms stretched above his head. "I've never won the lottery, but I think this is something better," he said later.
For the first time in the 14 years the men's Tewaaraton Award has been handed out, co-winners of college lacrosse's highest individual honor were announced in the form of the pair of Native American brothers.
They etched their names all over the NCAA Division I record book this season, lifted the Albany Great Danes to within an overtime goal of a final four appearance, and transcended the game with their dazzling display of skill and chemistry on the field, while reminding fans of the sport's heritage.
Dressed in traditional longhouse gear worn back home on the Onondaga Nation outside Syracuse, Lyle and Miles celebrated, along with 15 other family members that boarded a rented party bus and joined them in Washington.
It was emotional, as Lyle deferred the first words of an acceptance speech to Miles, who thanked the Creator, coaches, teammates, family and the selection committee, comprised of 10 active coaches that unanimously voted for the split award. Lyle and Miles are the first two Native American recipients of the trophy rooted in their culture.
"I didn't see it coming at all," Lyle said in a quiet moment after posing for numerous rounds of pictures when the ceremony concluded. "When they spit it out a little bit it brought tears to my eyes. I can't explain how happy I am."
The brothers shared an embrace on stage emblematic of their bond. They slept in the same bedroom throughout their entire childhood, live together at Albany now, along with Lyle's girlfriend and two young children — "He's like their other father," Lyle said — and will again be together next year when Miles stays on campus as an assistant coach with the Great Danes while Lyle plays out his senior season.
This season, each of them broke the 22-year-old NCAA Division I single-season points record of 114 held by UMBC's Steve Marohl, who was on hand Thursday night. Lyle finished with 128 points and Miles 119 as Albany's season ended in a thrilling NCAA tournament quarterfinal game against Notre Dame. Lyle also tied the single-season assists record of 77, also set by Marohl, while Miles tied the single-season goals record of 82 set 24 years ago by Yale midfielder Jon Reese.
"Certainly Lyle was the favorite going in, but for Mlles to score 82 goals and break the [points] record himself, he deserved to share the award," Albany coach Scott Marr said. "They've helped re-energize the game, and show people how much fun it can be to play the game. It wasn't about trick shots, it was about helping our team win."
The unprecedented move in Tewaaraton history was acknowledged with a statement from Tewaaraton Foundation chairman Jeffrey Harvey that said in part the Thompsons, "are symbolic of the game, its heritage and its future."
Duke attackman Jordan Wolf, Loyola defenseman Joe Fletcher and Princeton midfielder Tom Schreiber were the other finalists.
Wolf, thought by most as the next closest competition for the award given his own 100-plus point season that culminated Monday with a national championship, pegged Lyle Thompson as the winner beforehand.
"I don't think anyone is beating Lyle," Wolf said. "He had the best season in lacrosse history. You can't knock him for that."
Video: Tewaaraton Award Announcements
Meanwhile, the brothers Thompson thought the best option was to split the award, but they didn't think they would. So instead Lyle said that Miles should win, not only because he was the older, senior brother, but because "he's completely underrated and underestimated."
"A lot of people look at us and think I'm passing him the ball every time, and he's scoring," Lyle said, "and that's why he has so many goals and why I have so many assists. But if you watch every single one of our games that's not the case at all. He's getting his own goals. I'm the main initiator, but when I'm tired," he said with a laugh, "I kind of give him the green light. He never fails to impress."
And Miles returned the favor to his younger brother, saying "I feel it should go to the best player. He's proved that. He's been here two years in a row," in reference to Lyle's back-to-back Tewaaraton finalist seasons as a sophomore and junior.
It was par for the course.
"He's been by my side my whole life," Lyle said to a packed house during his acceptance speech. "We've done everything together. It's an honor to be up here with him. for this to happen."
From here, Miles Thompson and cousin Ty will play for Major League Lacrosse's Rochester Rattlers on Sunday. They will face Jeremy Thompson, Miles and Lyle's oldest brother, and the Florida Launch. Miles said their other other brother Jerome is also set to get a tryout with the Rattlers.
Said the father of all of them, "It's a never-ending story."
One that just added another chapter; a coronation of two brothers fit for the trophy they will share forever.
Looney, Lewis Honored with Spirit, Legends Awards
The late Brendan Looney and former Navy star Jimmy Lewis were honored with the Spirit of Tewaaraton and the Tewaaraton Legends awards, respectively.
During his fourth tour of duty as a Navy Seal, Looney, a key member of Navy's 2004 team that reached the national chmpionship game, was one of nine U.S. service members to lose his life in a September 2010 helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
Members of Looney's family were on hand to accept the award and former Navy coach and current Furman and Team USA coach Richie Meade presented the honor. Past recipients of the Spirit award include Dick Edell, Diane Geppi-Aikens, Sid Jamieson, A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard, Roy Simmons Jr., Richie Moran, and Bob Scott.
Lewis was the named the nation's top attackman in 1964, 1965 and 1966 and won national championships at Navy in each of those years. The previous three Legends Award winners were Syracuse's Jim Brown (2011), Cornell's Eamon McEneaney (2012) and Johns Hopkins' Joe Cowan (2013).
Tewaaraton US Lacrosse Native American Scholarship winners
The 2014 Tewaaraton US Lacrosse Native American scholarships, which annually honor two Iroquois student-athletes who aspire to achieve their full potential on the field and in the classroom, were awarded to Alie Jimerson and Kason Tarbell.
Jimerson is a member of the Cayuga Nation, Bear Clan, and a two-time captain at Lake Shore (N.Y.) High School. She will play at Albany in the fall, and has already played for the Haudenosaunee Nation in last summer's FIL World Cup. She will compete again on its 2015 under-19 world championship team.
Tarbell, who will play at Cornell in the fall, was captain of the Salmon River (N.Y.) High team and is a member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. He had a 4.0 grade point average.
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