Teacher-Coach Tom Duquette was inducted into the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame this week, a prestigious honor celebrating his remarkable career as a player and coach.
Started in 2008, the hall recognizes outstanding athletes, coaches, administrators, and media members who came from Hampton Roads or made noteworthy contributions to sports in the region. Hampton Roads-area media, coaches, sports enthusiasts, and fans participate in the selection process.
An all-American lacrosse player at the University of Virginia, Mr. Duquette helped the Cavaliers win national championships in 1970 and 1972. He graduated as the school's all-time leading goal scorer and still ranks near the top of the list in points per game. After graduation, he played on the United States National Team, winning a world championship in 1974.
After a stint at St. Anne's-Belfield, Mr. Duquette came to Norfolk Academy in 1981, as both a teacher and coach. In the classroom, he has brought a love of learning to countless students, a point in which he takes great pride. He served for many years as Chairman of the Math Department, and in his 40th year of teaching, he continues to teach two Upper School math courses, statistics and advanced topics. He also leads the school's Alumni Seminar Series, which continues the learning process after graduation.
On the field, Mr. Duquette helped the Academy boys lacrosse program flourish. He won more than 500 games before stepping down from coaching in 2019. He led teams to seven state championships; 13 Virginia Prep League championships; and 21 TCIS championships, and he never suffered a losing season. He garnered 22 Coach of the Year awards. More than 120 of his former players went on to play college lacrosse, with 20 captaining their college teams.
A large contingent of Academy teachers, coaches, and alumni came to the November 8 ceremony at Scope arena in downtown Norfolk, including some of those former players. The group included Chazz Woodson '01, a retired lacrosse professional who is now Hampton University's head men's lacrosse coach, and Jack Gibson '08, now an Academy teacher-coach who assists with the lacrosse program, as well as the current boys lacrosse head coach, Ryan Tucker.
In typical fashion, Mr. Duquette heaped praise on others during his induction speech. He offered thanks for being able to teach at Academy with his wife Susan, an Assistant Director and Counselor in the Lower School. He also thanked the two headmasters he has taught under, Mr. John Tucker and Mr. Dennis Manning, and his assistants in the lacrosse program, including Mr. Neil Duffy, a teacher-coach at Academy since 1994, and Dave Thomas, a former longtime Academy assistant and teacher.
Mr. Duquette also highlighted the wealth of outstanding coaches in the region. Among the other coaches in the hall are legendary college basketball coaches Wendy Larry, Paul Webb, and Lefty Driesell, and longtime Major League Baseball manager Clint Hurdle.
“It is humbling to be joining Hampton Roads coaching legends," Mr. Duquette said.
While his win total ranks among the largest in the nation, Mr. Duquette said the greatest compliments he received as a coach were not about wins. They came from opposing coaches and mentors who were impressed by how hard his teams competed.
Throughout his career, Mr. Duquette encouraged student-athletes to play hard without relying on a loud, fiery demeanor. In addition to lacrosse, he coached JV basketball for many years. Among the lessons he learned during that time: Coaches can make their points not by yelling or barking out an observation, but rather by asking players to describe what they saw in a particular situation.
He then credited the student-athletes who played for him, describing them as really good young men who loved to play lacrosse. Coaches are only as good as the talent they're dealt.
“I was dealt some crazy good hands," he said.