Even after long days on the job, the elder Thompson always made time to play lacrosse together with his sons. Furthermore, instead of immediately enrolling the boys at a youth group, he opted to coach them stressing the fundamentals and value of teamwork.
Eventually, the Thompson brothers did overlearn from their dad; they followed in his footsteps. The Nationals are the only Native American team that’s sanctioned to compete because of its own country in international play, a differentiation that inspires the Thompsons every time they overlook the group’s purple and yellow jerseys.
Equally important for the Thompsons is the chance to show to Native American youth how one can pursue their dreams and still maintain a strong link to community and customs. After all, the brothers are proof of the truth.
Born With A Stick In The Crib
“We’re given a traditional wooden pole when we’re born, to sleep in our crib,” Jerome Thompson states. “So, that’s when I received my first stick.”
Jerome Thompson, such as many kids on the Onondaga Nation Reservation in New York state, got the earliest possible launch in the match around which he’s built his life.
“And, you know, he informs us that he’d never take it easy on us. He would give us a nice, hard pass. You know that he was my favorite player. That is who I saw, growing up”
Lacrosse has a value for the Thompson brothers — there are just four of these: Jeremy, Jerome, Miles, and Lyle — that goes past a warm and fuzzy link to a daddy, even though he is slinging large, hard ones in them.
“There’s obviously a story that we were told as children, this match has been played since the start of time, that it began with the animals,” Miles says. “And those animals brought another perspective. And we have been taught these creatures played to demonstrate that each child can bring something different to the sport of lacrosse. Because, you know, whether or not you’re fast, you are strong, you have good hands, you’re gonna bring something different to this match. Every kid can play with this game.”
The First Family of Lacrosse: Lacrosse Tips From the Thompson Brothers
If you understand lacrosse, you’ve heard of Jeremy, Jerome (“Hiana”), Miles, and Lyle Thompson. Together, they’ve won the esteemed Tewaaraton Award three occasions, participated in the 2014 FIL World Lacrosse Championships together with the Iroquois Nationals, been named NCAA Division I All-Americans, and now play the Florida Launch of Major League Lacrosse and the Georgia Swarm and Saskatchewan Rush of the National Lacrosse League. They also run off-season youth camps and have their very own line of Thompson Brothers Lacrosse equipment with Nike.
They are famous for their inspiring and creative play and, as Native Americans, maintaining a close connection to the roots of the game. For them, playing lacrosse is all about honoring and carrying on historical traditions that date back more than a thousand years.
And they all want is for you to get the exact same fulfillment out of the game as they do. Here are tips in which they might share a few of their favorite drills and speak about ways to enhance their skills on the field and their understanding of the sport.
1. Have fun
“Once you begin one person with this particular game, you know, it moves. It just keeps moving. Anytime you have somebody to play with the match with, it makes it fun. It makes it possible to compete and puts you to a standard.” — Lyle Thompson
“Put your very best workout, encourage the folks around you, and most of all, in the long run, you wish to have fun.” — Jeremy Thompson
“I grew up seeing the children on our reservation, the older men, they weren’t on a path that I really enjoyed. They have been doing drugs, maybe a few alcohols. And the only people I looked around were my brothers and my dad. I want to be that for another generation. I would like to show them that you can have fun with a transparent mind.” — Miles Thompson
You may work a guardian, work the crease, or work the ball downfield, but you play the match. And playing is enjoyable. The Thompsons firmly believe that the sport should be fun. Growing up, the Thompsons had little else except each other and the match. They played all of the time and do.
2. Play it your way
“The creature I represent is the bear because a bear is great with his hands. He’s not the quickest animal out there and that resembles me in the area. Mine is the inside game where you need good hands to grab any pass which comes to you.” — Miles Thompson
“I represent the eagle because the eagle flies high and can see everything that is happening. I think of myself as a great feeder — somebody who sees the field really well sees the drama before it occurs.” — Lyle Thompson
“The animal that I represent is that the wolf since I’m fairly shifty and quick. I am a pretty aggressive player and I perform best with my wolf pack” — Hiana Thompson.
“The animal that best represents me is the deer. I have always been a runner, I’ve always been quick on my toes and running was always a fun thing for me personally.” — Jeremy Thompson.
Every player on the team is there for a reason: to add their strengths to the staff while minimizing the weaknesses of others. To honor their Native American tradition, the Thompsons each selected an animal that reflects the elements of their game. Perhaps one player’s game is speed, while for the other it’s quickness. Or vision. Or reliability. Or guile. Or strength. Understand that as long as players are properly deployed in the area, there are some of the positive qualities that may improve a team.
3. Take your medicine
“It actually goes beyond only a sport for us. Every spring [the Onondaga] possess a medicine game. It is a renewal for us annually. Plantlife comes up, the trees start to bud, blossoms begin to come out again. — Jeremy Thompson
“The way I look at it is, it is medicine in a manner that it’s entertaining. It brings people together. It’s something to anticipate. It makes people happy watching it and it makes people happy playing it” — Hiana Thompson
The Thompsons connect to lacrosse on another level. It is more than a game to them. As Native Americans of the Onondaga Nation, they also call it a medicine game, which means that they perform for the benefit and entertainment of their Creator. With that comes reverential respect for everything about the game: the ground it is played, the resources they use; their competitor, audiences, and community; to its elders that have passed and the youth who will someday join them on the field.
The more you dedicate yourself to the sport and improving your skills, the more you’ll get out of the game and be able to give back to the people important to you personally.
4. Grow the game
“It’s a little game, [but] it is growing fast. I think a lot of individuals wish to see it keep growing. It’s an entertaining game to watch and a much more enjoyable game to play. But for us, it carries more meaning as it is our game. It’s part of us, it is part of our own lives and it is a part of the next generation of gamers. So, we want to grow the game so that everybody can view this game that is part of our civilization.” — Lyle Thompson
And [the annual spring medication game], that’s our basic reminder that this game was sent to have good intentions, fantastic mind, good thoughts, good energy.” — Jeremy Thompson
“When I was a child growing up, I wanted to be a professional player, and being a professional player, now I want to help other children live up to their own fantasies, have something to look forward to. — Miles Thompson
Invite your family and friends to watch games. Invite others to join the team. In short, grow the game by introducing folks to it. Compete up to your ability. And always remember the game is for your pleasure and the pleasure of the others.
5. Respect the game
“Almost everything that I’m involved with in my entire life would not be without the game of lacrosse. Lacrosse has given me an education, helped me meet my very best friends, helped me make a living. So it’s important that you leave something for the children coming up or to the future of lacrosse.” — Lyle Thompson
“Respect was a huge thing that we are brought upon whether it’s in life or the sport of lacrosse. I mean, I don’t care if someone comes up and two-hands you round the arm, you are out there for another purpose. You’re going to really go out there and play hard still. And it is only the way we play lacrosse. It is how we walk around through life.” — Hiana Thompson.
Lacrosse is a microcosm of life. To accomplish this, understand where the game comes from and its original purpose. Know that you may face hardship, ups, and downs, wins and losses. Through it all play hard and perform blank. Don’t find retribution on opponents who don’t perform exactly the same way. And employ that regard to your everyday life.
6. Work hard
“For me and Miles, we grew up playing together and that he always played at a high degree. It forced me to play at that same level. I think just having that, it actually helps you get better in the game.” — Lyle Thompson
“Know that you have a present and it’s going to take you a long time to become the best that you can be, [to] possess your own craft and take to another level through hard work. There’s likely to be a hardship. Only [stick] with it [stay] strong.” — Jeremy Thompson
Nothing worth having comes easy. That goes for lacrosse exactly the same because it goes for life. However, you are going to get out of lacrosse everything that you put into it and more, so work at it. Recall what Lyle said: “The harder you play, the stronger the medicine.” And strong medicine usually means more healing you get.
Playing their ethnic game together is second nature for them, a connection born from blood, time, passion, and esteem, handed down from their parents and passed on to their own children.