Lee A. Thompson
Team: Track & Field

Lee A. Thompson '71
Track & Field
Year Inducted:
Other Sports Played:

The word “versatile” may be overused, but it is exactly the right word to describe record-setting runner Lee A. Thompson ’71 – along with “fast,” “unselfish,” “inspirational,” and “tireless.” As a member of Coach Ivan Fuqua’s teams, Thompson was a three-time Heptagonal champion and the holder of three all-time Brown outdoor records, one of which still stands. At the Heps in 1970, he won the outdoor 440 in 48.3; in 1971 he won the 600-yard event in 1:11.5, and repeated his win in the 440, this time setting the Brown record time of 47.2 that has yet to be broken. The other two school records Thompson held were for the 220 around a curve (21.4) and the mile relay (3:17.1). In his senior year, Thompson was undefeated in the 600-yard run. A dual-meet with Dartmouth in his senior year provided the perfect showcase for Thompson’s versatility. Pacing the Bruins to a 95-59 victory. Thompson won the 440, the 220, and the 440-yard intermediate high hurdles. Now for the unselfish part: Thompson was the favorite to win the 440 in the New Englands. He’d never won a New England title, and it had become a personal goal. But at that meet, it appeared that Brown would have a chance at the team championship. To help score crucial points for the team, Thompson ran seven grueling races – three 220’s, two 440’s, and two relays. As a result, he was less than fresh for his specialty, and finished second in the 440, a split-second behind the winner. At the track team’s postseason dinner that year, Thompson received the Henry Henshaw Bulova Watch Award – and heartfelt praise from his coaches. “Lee Thompson passed up a sure New England title in the 440 last Saturday,” said Ivan Fuqua, “so we could pick up more points. He is a great inspiration to any athlete in any sport.” Assistant Coach Ed Flanagan was even more lavish: “In forty years of coaching all kinds of boys, including Olympic champions, Thompson is one of the most outstanding athletes and the finest individual I’ve ever been associated with.”

Thompson began his running career in the fifth grade in Riverside, Connecticut, when he starred at school field days. He continued in the sport through high school, where he also took up soccer. He played four years of soccer at Brown, mostly as an inside, where he was effective because of his exceptional speed. He pursued an arduous academic program at Brown: a five year, A.B./Sc.B/ degree in sociology and engineering. When his athletic career at Brown ended, Thompson said he had only two regrets: the soccer teams loss to Harvard in the NCAA playoffs in his senior year, and the fact that his 47.2 time in the 440 just missed the cutoff time of 46.9 for the Nationals. Thompson’s postgraduate athletic career has centered around rugby, a sport he began playing while a student at Harvard Law School from 1974-1977. Today he plays for the Palo Alto XO Rugby Club when he’s not busy with his duties as associate staff counsel at Stanford University – and his more recent “job” as dad to Perry Lee Thompson, born to Lee and his wife Pamela last May.