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PROFILE: Two-sport athlete scores spot in Orillia Sports Hall of Fame

Chad Thompson, a 'very talented two-way player,' shone in the OHL and NLL, one of those rare athletes who played at the highest level of two sports

‚ÄčEditor's Note: This is the second in a series of profiles of the team, athlete and two builders to be inducted into the Orillia Sports Hall of Fame on May 4. Click here to read the first profile of the 1973 Allan Cup champion Orillia Terriers.

Chad Thompson, a two-sport athlete who excelled at the highest levels of both hockey and lacrosse, will be inducted into the Orillia Sports Hall of Fame next month.

Thompson was only four years old when he began playing lacrosse in the Orillia Kings’ peanut division and he soon fell in love with the sport. 

Thompson would make his way up through the ranks, becoming a “very skilled lacrosse” player who became a key factor on every team he played with, said Terry Bullen, a fellow Orillia Sports Hall of Famer.

Thompson ascended to the top locally, playing for the Rama Hammond Kings Jr. A squad before playing Sr. A lacrosse for the Barrie Lakeshores.

“Chad has always been a standout lacrosse player,” said Bullen in a letter of recommendation on Thompson’s behalf, noting Thompson was awarded the John ‘Gus’ McAuley award in 2005 as the most valuable defensive player in the Jr. A league.

His talent was recognized beyond Orillia when he was drafted into the National Lacrosse League by the Philadelphia Wings; he went on to play parts of five seasons with Toronto, San Jose and Orlando, tallying 64 points in 49 games as a defensive specialist.

Bullen was the defensive coach for the Toronto Rock in 2007 when Thompson joined the team; the two often carpooled from Orillia to Toronto for games and practices.

“I learned that he was a very talented two-way player,” said Bullen. “He was very open to learning and accepting the expected role as a player as this team went through a transition phase.”

Thompson was “an excellent team player,” said Bullen.

And while lacrosse had his heart from early on, he also fell in love with hockey. He started playing hockey in Orillia when he was six and made it to the top when he was 15 when he starred with the Orillia Terriers in the Provincial Junior Hockey League.

The next year, as a 16-year-old, he played with the powerhouse Aurora Tigers and skated his way on to the radar of Ontario Hockey League (OHL) scouts.

In 2001, he was drafted 105th overall by the London Knights. He would go on to play five seasons in the OHL with the Knights, Barrie Colts and Oshawa Generals.

During his time as a defenceman in the OHL, he played more than 200 regular season games, he scored 23 goals, added 41 assists and amassed almost 200 minutes in penalties.

“Chad was described by many that watched him play as the consummate team player,” Bullen said of Thompson’s hockey career.

“He was a hard player to compete against and one that would always stand up for his teammates,” Bullen recalled.

His teammate, Corry Jermey, agrees.

“Chad was the definition of a great teammate,” recalled Jermey. “His dedication and desire to win was at the highest level.”

Jermey said Thompson led by example and made the players around him better.

“He treated his teammates like they were family and would stick up for them at any moment if required. It was a pleasure and an honour to play with Chad and his knowledge and passion for the game of hockey is something to be admired,” said Jermey.

After his playing days, Thompson continued to follow his passions, becoming a coach with the North Central Predators AAA program and with the Orillia Minor Lacrosse Association. In 2023, he won the Ryan Crowther Memorial Award, recognizing outstanding coaching in the Predators’ system. 

“As I reflect on Chad’s athletic history, I can’t help but feel that he has devoted so much of his life to sport,” said Bullen.

“I’m not sure how many Orillia athletes have participated at this level of competition in two very demanding sports,” said Bullen.

Thompson will be officially inducted at this year’s Orillia Sports Hall of Fame Gala, which will be held May 4 at Hawk Ridge Golf and Country Club. 

Tickets are $130 and can be obtained by contacting Mel St. Onge ([email protected]) or Isobel Hill ([email protected].)

 


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Dave Dawson

About the Author: Dave Dawson

Dave Dawson is community editor of OrilliaMatters.com
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