Teacher-Coach Tom Duquette humbly accepted induction into the National Interscholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association Hall of Fame on March 12.
Mr. Duquette has served as a teacher-coach at Norfolk Academy since 1981. He served for many years as Chairman of the Math Department and continues to teach two Upper School math courses, statistics and advanced topics. He also leads the school's Alumni Seminar Series, which advances the learning process after graduation.
On the athletic fields, he 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.
Because of those accomplishments, Mr. Duquette has been inducted into numerous halls of fame over the years. Just last fall he was inducted into the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame.
However, Mr. Duquette said the NILCA honor means a great deal to him, because the organization serves coaches across the country.
“That the nominating committee deemed me worthy of induction into this Hall of Fame is a singular honor," he said in his acceptance speech. “At some point we all played this Great Game. Some of us have been honored for our play of it, but this Hall of Fame is different - it celebrates high school coaches and high school coaching, it celebrates that which we have chosen to do with our lives."
During his speech, Mr. Duquette deflected praise, choosing to thank others for contributing to the success of his teams. He thanked his father for teaching him the game; Academy headmasters John Tucker and Dennis Manning, who have led the school during his time; assistant coaches including Neil Duffy, Dave Thomas, and Ryan Tucker (who now serves as Academy's head varsity lacrosse coach); and the countless student-athletes he coached.
“I was dealt some crazy good hands," Mr. Duquette said. “Players who in high school were all-conference, all-state, and all-American, and who became college captains, NCAA champions, collegiate all-Americans, MLL and NLL All-Stars, and world champions. But more importantly a bunch of really, really good guys who loved to play, guys who brought the same energy to a Wednesday practice in March that they brought to a state tournament game in May. If you stick around long enough and have enough good players, you win a lot of games."