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DU lacrosse abruptly stopped

By Shaun Kernahan; photo courtesy of the Thompson family

Photo of Jack Thompson goalie for DU Pioneers

Jack Thompson guards the goal for his second career start as the University of Denver Pioneers took on the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.

Saturday, March 7 in South Bend, Indiana, the Denver Pioneers Lacrosse team knocked off top 10 ranked Notre Dame – thanks in part to freshman goalie and Castle Pines native, Jack Thompson. That next Tuesday, Denver ranked 11th in one national poll and climbed into the top 10 in another. Two days later, the world of sports entered uncharted territory.

Flashback to sophomore year at Rock Canyon High School, Thompson had his heart set on going to the Ivy League Dartmouth to play college lacrosse, but the head coach who recruited him left the program. After one camp in New Hampshire, Thompson knew the new staff there was not for him, so he committed to the University of Denver (DU).

Jack is the son of Mike and Anna Thompson. Jack is looking to follow in the engineering footsteps of his father. He is currently majoring in computer engineering. DU was not known for its engineering school, but recent investments in the department were enough to convince Jack to stay close to home and become a Pioneer.

Thursday, March 12, the day after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19 and the NBA suspended its season, was a day any sports fan will remember forever. NCAA college basketball conference tournaments were supposed to tip-off that morning, but slowly news trickled in that Duke had canceled all sports, followed by Kansas. Conferences started to take the lead of the Ivy League earlier in the week, and they suspended their tournaments. Jack was at the dorms getting text updates from his dad and teammates, and he saw the writing on the wall, his freshman season was over.

That afternoon it became official; the NCAA announced it was canceling all winter championships and the remainder of all spring sports, including lacrosse. When asked how the seniors reacted knowing their college sporting careers were suddenly over, Jack simply said, “there were tears.”

The team went out to the practice field late that afternoon and held an intra-squad scrimmage as the final game of lacrosse anyone on the team would play this season. Saturday, instead of heading to Columbus, Ohio to take on Ohio State, the players all went home, some locally, others scattered across the country, as DU moved to online classes only amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jack admitted he is grateful he wound up at DU instead of somewhere across the country because he just had to drive down I-25 to get home rather than board a flight like some of his teammates. In the surreal time we are currently facing, finding those silver linings have become more important than ever, and Jack looks forward to the fact he has three more seasons ahead of him.



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