Down Memory Lane Articles - by Stan Shillington
Ivan Thompson was born in a magical land of lacrosse greatness and was tutored by a coaching legend. Little wonder that he ascended a stairway to the game's aristocracy.
Ivan was born and raised in the Ontario community of Huntsville, the hometown of the fabled lacrosse icon and boxla guru . Naturally, every gifted athlete in town took up the game of lacrosse.
The likeable Thompson boy was introduced to lacrosse in the Under 12 level, coached by Bishop through PeeWee and Bantam divisions. Bishop later moved on to form the Oshawa Green Gaels but Ivan and older brother Brian refused to follow, preferring to remain with the Huntsville Hawks junior organization. However, Ivan did receive a Minto Cup medal when Bishop added him to his 1969 roster for the Canadian Championship series.
But 1969 was a memorable year for many other reasons. His 49 goals and 68 assists for 117 points earned him the OLA junior league's Most Valuable Player honours. This award, coupled with his involvement at Laurentian University in badminton, volleyball, track and field, hockey, soccer and football, earned him the coveted Laverne Reynolds Trophy as Ontario's outstanding Athlete of the Year.
Ivan graduated to the senior Huntsville lacrosse team in 1970, scoring 44 goals and 26 assists in his rookie year. But the Huntsville club folded the following season, leaving Ivan pondering his playing future.
Perhaps the defending Mann Cup champions New Westminster Salmonbellies could use his services.
Just prior to the 1971 season, Ivan checked into the Russell Hotel in New Westminster and placed a call to a Salmonbellies' executive member. But, with a stacked team already, the 'Bellies sent him a note of regret and suggested he get in touch with the talent-starved Victoria Shamrocks.
As the cliche goes, the rest is history.
His debut with the 'Rocks was promising, but short-lived. Ivan managed 14 goals and 12 assists before suffering a knee injury in his ninth game.
The following season, 1972, Victoria fans discovered the treasure they had. The good-looking, 24-year-old racked up 49 goals and 68 assists for 117 points in 31 games to earn First Team All-Star honours and the Commission Trophy as the WLA's MVP. And then he capped the year with a walk down the marriage aisle.
After two more seasons with Victoria, Ivan joined Boston Bolts of the National Lacrosse League, scoring an incredible 91 goals and 116 assists for 207 points in 46 games - good enough to win another MVP award.
When the pro NLL collapsed, Ivan returned to Victoria for another four seasons, leading Shamrocks to two Mann Cup appearances (1978 and 1979), winning the Canadian title and the Mike Kelly Medal as series' MVP in the second try.
On that note - at the top of his game - Ivan retired. A six-time all-star and three-time MVP, the Huntsville native earned 492 goals and 615 assists for 1,109 points in 288 games with Boston, Huntsville and Victoria.
Ivan was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1986, joining other Huntsville alumni (1974) and (1969). Later, brother (1996) and childhood chum (1990) followed him into the Hall.
Ivan now resides in Fort Langley, B.C.