HOOSIER SCOOP SAGE TAKE OF THE DAY, Dec. 10, 2012
My son Evan was still hugging me and hollaring his delight in our living room when Jerry Yeagley’s face suddenly filled our television screen Sunday afternoon. Jerry was beaming down from what looked like a press box berth as the celebration unfolded on the Regions Park pitch below, because his son Todd had just led Indiana soccer to its eighth NCAA men’s soccer title.
I felt delighted for the Yeagleys and for all those who love Indiana soccer — and I thought about how I’d been privileged to be perched in a Fort Lauderdale press box back in 1982 watching Jerry’s Hoosiers win their first national championship.
It didn’t come easily. That was the legendary eight-overtime win over Duke.
I was just a part-time Herald-Times sports reporter back then, incredulous at my good fortune in scoring such a plumb assignment for what proved to be a historic juncture.
I could relate so many stories from that 1982 Final Four weekend, but that would turn this take into a tome.
Suffice, for now, to say I’ll never forget how Indiana set up the decisive free kick on that long, sweltering Florida night.
Duke set up its defensive wall right around the 18. IU freshman All-American John Stollmeyer then ran toward to the right end of the wall, looking like he was going to swing around it, seemingly timing his move to stay onside and receive a chip pass over the wall. But that was all just a feint.
As soon as the Duke defender at that end of the wall took one step out to cover Stollmeyer, Gregg “Thumper” Thompson put his free kick right where the guy’s head had been, right past the guy’s ear through the space just vacated. And the ball, unhindered, bounced right into the net.
Most of the exhausted players from both sides immediately collapsed, though some Hoosiers managed to dogpile Thompson in celebration. A cub reporter on deadline, I leapt over the facade of the open air press box (this was back in the days when I could leap) and ran down to the field to get quotes for my game story.
Thompson was still flat on his back when I interviewed him, gazing up at me with a dazed smile.
And I’m thinking about Thumper Thompson now, and about how his sons Tanner and Tommy are part of Todd Yeagley’s 2013 IU soccer recruiting class.
The Thompsons reside in Granite Bay, Cal., and older brother Tyler signed with Stanford last spring, but the pull of IU ties was too strong for Tanner, a senior who plans to graduate this month and be at IU for the 2013 spring semester, and Tommy, a junior who will graduate an entire year early and join his brother at IU for the 2013 fall semester.
It is just more evidence, though none is really needed, that IU soccer was, is, and will forever remain a family affair in every aspect of that term.
All seven previous IU championship teams were represented by attendees at Sunday’s title match. Think about that. Todd Yeagley and assistant coaches Brian Maisonneuve and Ernie Yarbrough all played on great early 1990s Hoosier teams that were painfully unlucky not to win a title. They’ll get their richly-deserved rings now.
Those rings will represent not just the 2012 NCAA men’s soccer champions, but the IU soccer family circle — from fathers to sons, from former players to current and future Hoosiers — that remains unbroken.