Fort Collins’ Thompson thrilled for homecoming as milestone first tender signing for NAHL’s Grit franchise
After the NAHL announced last month that the Colorado Grit would be joining the league for the 2023-24 season, it was only a matter of time before the team began to tender players for next season.
The team’s first signing, Marek Thompson, is a local Fort Collins native playing the 2022-23 season on the blue line for the Lawrence Academy in Groton, Mass.
Thompson said it’s very exciting to be given the opportunity to play for the Grit next season.
“Hockey is a small world,” said Thompson. “Rhett Gordon, one of my former coaches, talked to (Grit coach Steve) Haddon and (owner David) Clarkson about me, and Haddon reached out to me for a conversation. It’s an honor to be the first tender, especially as a hometown guy, and it’s practically a dream come true to return to Colorado to play juniors in such a competitive league as the NAHL. Having the rink so near my home is a privilege that virtually no one gets, so I will not take it for granted. I’ve already been gone for two years, which makes it even more amazing that I’ll be playing in Colorado.”
Growing up, Thompson played for the NCYH Jr. Eagles until 14U when he made the jump to AAA and played for the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders for a season.
“For a variety of reasons, my family and I decided to return to play for Fort Collins High School, which I absolutely loved,” said Thompson. “I’ve had many outstanding coaches, which I’m really grateful for since I know that sometimes kids aren’t the greatest fans of their coaches. That being said, Rhett Gordon, my Bantam and summer skills director, is without a doubt one of the most impactful I have had in my career. Even now, living away from home, I could call or text him any time asking for hockey advice, which I greatly appreciate. My dad and brother have also acted as coach figures my entire life, which has also been something that I have massively benefited from.”
Aidan Thompson, a freshman at the University of Denver and a draft pick last summer of the Chicago Blackhawks, is an influence Marek said “has always been my toughest competition.”
“The things he has taught me, both purposefully and inadvertently, have shaped me into the person and player I am today,” said the younger Thompson. “I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive older brother. The thing about Aidan is that no matter what, he’s always wanted the best for me, and he’s been tremendously helpful in my hockey career, pushing me to be the best version of myself every day, which is a gift that keeps on giving.
“Without Aidan constantly pushing me to be better, I wouldn’t be nearly the same player I am today.”
Moving forward, Thompson has aspirations he’d love to achieve in the immediate future and down the road.
“My short-term hockey goals are to win a prep championship and finish out this season as strong as possible,” Thompson said. “As a senior, I only have one more chance to win a high school championship and I’ve come close twice and fallen short, so I’d love to pull through in my senior year and win with all my friends. In addition to hockey, I want to finish my prep golf season strong.
“My long-term hockey goals are to have successful junior and college hockey careers, hopefully continuing to play at the highest level possible for as long as possible. Long-term goals in life are a little harder to pin down at this moment, but I’d like to go to college, get a degree, play hockey and golf forever and make a few bucks doing something.”
Photo provided by Marek Thompson
— Matt Mackinder
(February 10, 2023)