Rochester Original Regy Thorpe Retires
from press release
One of the greatest athletes in Rochester sports history announced his retirement today as original Rochester Knighthawk Regy Thorpe ended his National Lacrosse League career after 15 seasons.
"I understand that the team is getting bigger, faster and stronger," said Thorpe. "I think it's the best for the organization and my family that I officially retire. Who knows what the future will hold."
During his career, Thorpe served as one of the team's most reliable defensemen and also worked behind the scenes as the team's general manager for a season. It's on the field, however, where Thorpe, 39, made a name for himself over 15 seasons. The Elbridge, NY, native spent his entire career in Rochester, where he stands as the team's all-time leader in games played (193), loose balls (966) and penalty minutes (385). According to former GM and current VP of Player Personnel Jody Gage, Thorpe will go down in team history as one of the best ever.
"Regy was an original Knighthawk, a true professional and one of the best all-time defensemen. He brought it every night. 'I don't know if anyone hit harder than Regy,'" said Gage. "He also knew the game and was a true leader."
His leadership was also apparent to Paul Day, who was an assistant with the Knighthawks from 1995 to 1997 and the head coach from 1998 to 2005. He noticed Thorpe right away at the first day of training camp at Salmon Creek Country Club in Spencerport.
"From the first day of camp, he came out of nowhere and was an immediate impact player right away," said Day. "Paul Gait came out the front door and Regy came out the back door. He dominated on defense and was a huge impact that first season and the rest of his career. He is one of the Knighthawks' Top 5 All-Time best."
Thorpe arrived in Rochester in 1994 after playing his college lacrosse at nearby Syracuse University (1992-93). He was one of the co-captains on the 1993 team that captured the Division I National Championship. That season, he earned Honorable Mention All-American honors. Randy Mearns was there when Thorpe made the transition from the field game to the box game. Mearns and Thorpe would spend the next seven seasons together in Rochester.
"When he came in he was a monster. You look back and he was the anchor of our defense," said Mearns. "He always got matched up against the opposing team's best offensive threats. He covered guys like Gary Gait, John Tavares, Paul Gait and Colin Doyle. He was a great team leader, brought 100 percent to the table and was pretty level headed. He had that winning mantra after being at Syracuse and brought that to the team."
Knighthawks Hall of Famer Tim Soudan also spent the majority of his career with Thorpe. From 1995 to 2005, the two Americans typified the hard-working Knighthawks. The Fairport native and the Elbridge native were even roommates on the road for a couple of seasons.
"The first thing I remember about him was his work ethic in practice. We had an automatic connection because of that," said Soudan. "We had a lot of fun hanging out and I am a better person for knowing him."
Thorpe traveled down the interstate to play for the fledging Rochester Knighthawks on an invitation from Rochester Head Coach Barry Powless. Little did he and his family know then that they would make the trip for the next 15 years. As he reflected on his Hall of Fame career, he remembered where it all began.
"I remember being in my apartment in Jordan and getting the phone call from Assistant Coach Peter Crawford that I made the team. I was so excited," said Thorpe. "We didn't get paid a lot but we played against some of the best Canadians, Americans and Native Americans in the game. I never thought I would play that long and that Rochester would be such a part of my life. It was like my extended family and the relationship was pretty special."
His family, which includes his wife, Amy, and kids Ella and Gail, also had a special relationship with the team. Regy even missed the birth of his son, Gail, while trying out for the team on December 18, 1994 at the Aud in Buffalo. While Regy was scrapping with Buffalo Bandit Darris Kilgour, his wife was in labor with their second child. Only a frantic Tom Cincebox signaling from the Knighthawks bench alerted Regy.
"This was before cell phones and my wife's family had my pager number. Tom Cincebox was waving his arms from the bench to get my attention," said Regy. "By the time I got there he was already born. I was in the penalty box when my son was born."
His family also enjoyed the numerous playoff runs for the Knighthawks as Regy played in every postseason game in franchise history (24), helping Rochester to six title games and 14 playoff berths in 15 seasons. More importantly, Thorpe was the only player in team history to play for both championship teams: 1997 and 2007.
"'97 was extremely special. But after going 10 years without raising the Cup, 2007 was a special time as well," said Thorpe. "It was very rewarding because my kids were older and my family enjoyed that championship a lot more. 2007 was a special group of guys that had good chemistry and I played a leadership role on that team."
The defensive stalwart was also the team captain in 2008 and served as an alternate captain from 2005 to 2007. He also wore the "C" after Mike Hasen was injured in 2007 and captained Rochester to its second championship.
"It was nice because it was the year I got hurt. After being together and having three or four chances it was nice to finally win it," said Hasen."It was one of the best parts of my career."
Thorpe also won numerous team individual accolades along the way, winning the team's Unsung Hero three times and earning the Connors & Ferris Comeback Player of the Year twice. In 2005, he was also named to the Knighthawks' All-Time Team.
In 2009, he earned the distinction of becoming the first GM in NLL history to also play for the same team in the same season. Under his guidance on and off the floor, the team finished 7-9 and advanced to the East Division Semifinals. Thorpe was instrumental in making player moves and anchoring the defense.
"I loved playing in the same city my whole career. Curt (Styres) gave me the opportunity to be a general manager, which was a dream job," said Thorpe. "My other dream was coaching at the Division I level and I am in a really good situation with Gary Gait at Syracuse. The Knighthawks have led my family down the road to opportunities as a player, general manager and a coach."
Thorpe began his relationship with Styres with the Junior "A" Six Nations Arrows. For three seasons, Thorpe coached the Junior "A" lacrosse team. In his first season, the Arrows won the 2007 Minto Cup, which is the national junior championship in Canada. In 2009 he led the Arrows to the OLA Junior "A" Finals. That championship team included current Knighthawks Craig Point, Cody Jamieson, Sid Smith and Shawn Evans.
"Getting to win the Minto Cup with Regy was especially rewarding because he was a teammate of mine with the Knighthawks," said Evans. "Every day he puts his heart and body on the line for the team. To see that rubs off on everyone."
"He was a player's coach," added Smith. "He did a great job leading us."
No. 1 overall pick Cody Jamieson echoed the statement of Evans. Jamieson's career took off after winning the championship, while playing under Thorpe.
"Regy was more than a coach. He was a guider. He led us and took total control," said Jamieson, who was the Minto Cup MVP. "He outcoached every other coach we played and he had us prepared for everyone we played. He was everything a great coach should be."
"It was a pretty fun year. He was a fundamentals coach, but he also wanted to have fun," added Point. "He pushed us when he had. He played the game for so many years he knew what to say and we knew what to do."
Thorpe currently serves as the Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator at Syracuse University and will coach his daughter next season. His son is an aspiring lacrosse star in Elbridge having grown up watching some of the greatest players in the world, which included his father. Regy now has a chance to support one of his biggest fans and supporters over the past decade and a half.
"My wife is running the Liberty Lacrosse store in Auburn. She supported me all those years and now I get to support her. I couldn't have done it without her," said Regy.
The Rochester Knighthawks could say the same thing about him, "They couldn't have done it without him."