New Football Coach Excited To Be At LHS
More than five months after his hiring by the school board, new LHS football coach Tom Thome opened his first training camp last Monday at First Federal Lakewood Stadium. Coach Thome (rhymes with “home”) and the players spent the offseason conditioning, participating in camps, and doing community service projects. They are looking forward to their opening game later this month.
Given the struggles of the Ranger program in recent years, many wondered why Thome chose to take the job. Thome’s response: “It’s not just about 'football.' It’s about being in this school and the rich history of success it has in academics and other programs. [I see] The diverse community that Lakewood has and I see a football program that has administrators, faculty members, students and community that want it to be successful. Lakewood has great students and it’s not about a quick fix its about building a program the right way and letting that foster in the school and community.”
Thome, a graduate of Nordonia High School, has been very pleased with his reception. “This community has done nothing but impressed me and made me feel welcome. As a team we have helped out with multiple community service projects and other community events.” Those include the recent Summer Meltdown by LakewoodAlive. Thome is also happy with his players. “Coming to Lakewood everyone wanted to give me their opinion about Lakewood kids, but since I’ve gotten here all I’ve seen are student athletes who are eager to learn, get coached up and who want to see the team do better.”
Numbers have been a problem for the program in recent years, and continue to be a concern. However, there are some favorable trends. “We have had a lot of interest and kids participating in the weight room and camp,” says Thome. “We have had as many as 50 plus in non-mandatory student activities and this year we had 40 students participate in our youth camp.” This year’s group of freshmen is the largest in years and should allow for a full freshman team this season. In recent years the freshmen have been forced to play on the JV squad due to low numbers.
Thome, who served as Defensive Coordinator last season in Twinsburg, has been in coaching for over ten years. He describes himself first and foremost as a teacher. “I am all about teaching fundamentals and techniques to the student athletes. I want our student athletes to be able to have fun and play fast,” he says. “I coach exactly how I teach: present the students with clear objectives and expectations, make sure they know that the coaching staff genuinely cares about them.”
Coach Thome sums up his philosophy in three letters: PCE.
“P” is for passion: “Passion for who we are, what we do, and who we are doing it with. We control our attitude and must do everything with great energy.”
“C” is for commitment: “We control the type of person we want to become.”
"E" is for execution: “Work to finish! We control our effort. The type of people (coaches and student athletes) that will represent us will be of the highest excellence in actions, words, and deeds.”
When asked about his vision for the program, Thome responded: “My goal is to build a successful program with the philosophy of PCE, I want our students to be better people after they go through our program. It’s not about winning and losing, it's about making successful people for them to go out into the world after they’re done playing. I am extremely excited and energetic and our kids have gravitated to the program and the coaches.”
You can get a preview of this year’s Rangers at the August 14 preseason scrimmage against Villa Angela St. Joseph. The scrimmage will take place at 6pm at First Federal Lakewood Stadium. The team opens the regular season on August 24 against Garfield Heights. The Lakewood Observer will cover the Ranger football team throughout the 2018 season. In our next print edition, we will speak with Coach Thome about this season’s roster, position groups, and schedule.
Mike Deneen has extensive experience covering sports and community stories for the Lakewood Observer. Mike has been a Senior Industry Analyst for the Freedonia Group in Cleveland, Ohio, since 1998. He has appeared on CNBC’s Closing Bell, NPR’s MarketPlace and has been quoted multiple times in The Wall Street Journal. He has made multiple guest appearances on ESPN Cleveland radio. Mike also writes for Inside Northwestern, a website that covers Northwestern Wildcat Athletics. You can reach him on Twitter at @MikeDeneen1