1988 U.S. Olympic Track Coach, Seoul, Korea
Colgate Women’s Games Founder and Meet Director
It's Okay to Run in the Halls
In 1958 having just graduated St. John’s Law, Mr. Thompson had a
choice, continue on with another advanced degree or enter the armed
services. Against the advice of many, Mr. Thompson chose the
military and served as a member of the Judge Advocate General Corps
stationed in the Republic of Panama. Upon completion of
service, Mr. Thompson returned to Brooklyn and began practicing law
for a prominent law firm specializing in negligence work.
Over the years he also held legal positions with the Internal
Revenue Service and the Federal Trade Commission.
An attorney by day, his evenings were spent counseling youth at
a Bedford-Stuyvesant community center operating out of PS21.
Believing that competitive athletics, specifically track, would
help to develop more educated, productive members of society he
formed the Atoms Track Club using a 60 meter hallway of the school
as a training facility. In an era when NYC public schools did
not offer girls athletic venues, financing for the program came
through Mr. Thompson’s personal resources.
In 1972 Mr. Thompson requested a leave of absence from his
employer at the time, ABC Studios, so that he could travel to the
1972 Olympics in Munich to watch athletes from his Atoms Track Club
compete. ABC Studios had other plans for Mr. Thompson,
recognizing that Mr. Thompson was well versed in Track and Field he
was asked to serve as a color commentator alongside Jim McKay for
the ill fated Olympic Games which became famous for attacks on
athletes by terrorists. It should be noted that Cheryl
Toussaint, a member of Mr. Thompson’s Track Club, won a Silver
Medal during those Games.
Just prior to leaving for the Olympics, Mr. Thompson delivered a
proposal to the Colgate-Palmolive Company that requested funding
for an extensive women’s indoor track program that would be open to
all female athletes providing that they were enrolled in
school. Upon returning from the Olympic Games, Mr. Thompson
learned that his proposal was accepted and a vision was about to be
realized. Now celebrating its 35th Anniversary, the Colgate
Women’s Games annually hosts 11,000 registrants from all over the
East Coast making it the largest free amateur track competition in
the nation. A unique entry requirement for participation in
the Colgate Games is that all pending participants must write an
essay addressing a myriad of topics – thereby combining athletics
and education. The Colgate Games have had seventeen
former Olympians compete in the last 34 years, making the Games a
national proving ground for female athletes.
Having already impacted the lives of thousands of
scholar-athletes Mr. Thompson offers this advice to Law School
students, “be true to yourself, the expectations that others have
for you are secondary to the expectations that you must have for
yourself. Throughout my legal career, I met many fine
attorneys that made an impact on the communities they served.
I knew in my heart that I would not impact as many people through
the practice of law as I would following what was right for me -
the Colgate Games. I value my law degree and stay current
through continuing education but the Colgate Games was the right
path for me.”