Georgia Swarm rookie Lyle Thompson was the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NLL Entry Draft after a stellar career at the University at Albany, where he set a Division I record with 400 career points while winning the Tewaaraton Award in 2014 and 2015 – he shared the award with his brother Miles in 2014 – as the most outstanding player in college lacrosse..
With the Swarm, Lyle reunited with his brother, who was selected No. 3 overall in the 2014 NLL Entry Draft.
As it happens, the Thompsons are cousins of New England Black Wolves defender Bill O’Brien. The three are business partners in Thompson Brothers Lacrosse, and O’Brien serves as the Director of Business Development.
On Sunday, the Swarm and Black Wolves will meet in a 3 p.m. game at Mohegan Sun Arena. On Friday, Lyle took a few minutes to chat.
How is the transition to the National Lacrosse League going so far this season?
“Coming from college, you look at the National Lacrosse League and it’s a totally different sport. I think for me, I haven’t always played at the highest level of box lacrosse, so that has been a big challenge for me. Right now, I’m trying to be a student of the game and trying to keep my ears open and trying to learn as much as I can in this first year . It’s not going bad. It will all be good and I’m just going to keep getting better and better with the experience of playing at this level.”
How does it help the transition to have your older brother as a teammate?
“It’s all chemistry and being able to trust each other, trust your teammates. With him it’s on a whole other level. l. I think the biggest advantage is that we’re not afraid to tell each other what’s working, and little things in the middle of the game. At the same time, after the game, we come home and we get to work on it. We get a full week to practice, whereas a team and an offense, we only get that once a week. Being able to work with him every day and just getting used to the game week to week, I think that’s something that’s really helped us”
As someone who has played the outdoor game at a high level, explain how playing box lacrosse helps develop your skills.
“It’s a huge benefit. First of all stick skills. Being able to work in tight spaces, to catch in tight spaces, to make places in tight spaces makes a big difference. It (also) helps with the way your brain works in little situations. In field lacrosse everything is so much more open and it makes it that much easier. The other thing I think is you learn to use your body. In field lacrosse, a lot of kids try to get away with being really quick or having a really hard shot. In box lacrosse, it’s more about technique. It’s more about using your head and using your brain to find different ways to get by a defender. Use your body. Use the defender’s momentum. It’s not so much burst by the guy with your speed and then take a super hard shot with no accuracy. In box lacrosse, those things help. Being able to pick a corner (to aim a shot) from a low angle or using your defender in certain ways for your advantage.”
Do you think people are starting to understand the benefits of playing the box game?
“I think everyone is seeing it in the college game. You look at all these Canadian players who are playing the best game. They’re the top players in the country. People love their style, love the way they play and love the way they do things on the field. It’s helping the American kids realize the benefits. It obviously helps when all these kids are starting to get recruited and coaches are preaching that box lacrosse can help you. That right there is a big seller for kids. At the same time, I think box lacrosse is just so much more entertaining. So much faster. So much more exciting.”
As a Native American, can you explain what the sport means to you?
“Lacrosse is a Native American game and a lot of people know that. What a lot of people don’t know is that almost all the natives across the Americas have played lacrosse in a different ways. Different tribes play it different ways, but it all carries the same meaning and the same medicine. Native Americans who watch lacrosse, they are excited for Native Americans. They want the best for each other, so that’s what I’ve seen with my success. I kind of get fans who never even paid attention to lacrosse, but they’re a fan of me inspiring the next generation of kids. And It doesn’t have to be through lacrosse. It can just be through sport.”
What will it be like matching up with your cousin and business partner this weekend?
“That’s exciting. During the week, we’re working with Bill and we’re all working together. But on the weekend, we become opponents. At the same time, we should know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You want to try and take advantage of that. I don’t how much BIll knows about me. I don’t know what he’s going to guess about me, but Its exciting. I know what type of player he is. When we’re on the floor, it’s kind of different because everything just kind of becomes a game and he’s my opponent and I’m going to do to help my team win. “
Has there been a lot of trash talking this week?
“There’s always a little bit of trash talking before the game. From whistle to whistle, obviously he’s kind of my enemy. But after the game, it’s all back to normal.”