ESPN’s next #SCFeatured tells the story of the Thompson Trio – brothers Miles and Lyle, along with their cousin Ty. They form what is regarded as one of history’s best collegiate lacrosse attack lines.
The University of Albany student-athletes come from the Mohawk and Onondaga Nations out of upstate New York. They are incredibly dedicated to their people, heritage and traditions. The feature (see trailer above) will debut during the 10 a.m. Sunday edition of SportsCenter and will re-air throughout the day.
The piece is narrated by Alfie Jacques, “The Stickmaker of the Iroquois,” who – like his father before him – has dedicated his life to making wooden lacrosse sticks.
Front Row sat down with feature producer Christopher Bloxom, who is in his 12th year at ESPN, to talk about his experience shooting this “#SCFeatured” piece.
The Thompson Trio story is well documented. How did ESPN tell a story different from what is already out there?
I hope that we are telling a complete story that will profile the Thompson Trio not only as lacrosse players but as men who have overcome incredible obstacles to become arguably the best attack line in the history of lacrosse. The Thompsons hope that their successes on the field will enable them to become role models for other Native Americans: Miles and Lyle have never taken a sip of alcohol and hope to show kids that you can go off to school, get an education and play what you love and not lose your traditional ways. All three have said they plan to return to their respective Nations when they have graduated from college.
Albany lost in the NCAA quarterfinals last week, but ESPN still will air this feature. Does that speak to the impact the trio has made this season?
We decided to put this piece in production well before the season was over and the seeding for the NCAA Championship was determined. I think the Thompsons story transcends wins and losses, so we were ready to air the piece this weekend regardless.
Two years ago, an ESPN production team spent time with the Onondaga Nation to capture its love of lacrosse. Did you see this commitment from the Thompson Trio?
Lacrosse is a way of life, part of a deep tradition and faith that they still adhere to. Miles and Lyle both have kept their traditional ponytails and playing the sport of their ancestors is really what they love. I spent three days on the Onondaga Nation (home to Miles and Lyle) in upstate New York. It was an amazing experience. We left from Albany one afternoon after practice, and within minutes of walking in the door we were sitting around the table and eating tacos with the family.
How does this #SCFeatured piece compare to others you’ve produced?
I have done several “#SCFeatured/Sunday Night Features” and they are all unique, which is why I love this job. Getting to meet new people and experience different things is what makes this so fun. I worked on a Fourth of July soldiers coming home piece last year about reunited families at sporting events.
I also did a feature where I followed a single tree into becoming a major league bat used on Opening Day and a feature on Matt Woodrum, an elementary schooler with cerebral palsy who elected to run in the longest race at his school’s field day despite the intense pain it caused him. They are all unique.