Joseph Thon is preparing for his first season as head coach of perennial national championship contenders, Arizona State. The Sun Devils are 93-23 over the last six seasons, have been to the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association semi-finals the last five years, and played in the MCLA National Championship three times since 2010. The 2014 Sun Devils entered the postseason as the number one ranked team in the Division I of the MCLA . The team kept their perfect season until falling to the Colorado Buffaloes 13-12 in the National Championship Game.
Thon, who was hired in July, is a 2007 graduate of Mercy hurst University in Erie, Pa., where he was a two time NCAA Division II lacrosse All-America selection, and team captain, Academic All-American, Scholar Athlete of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2007.
Coach Thon He took out some time to tell us a little about himself, his background, and his coaching philosophy. Check back tomorrow to learn what it takes to be a Sun Devil.
Tell us about your lacrosse background. Where did you play? How long have you been coaching?
I grew up in Rochester, NY and played at Penfield High School before moving on to play at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA. I played LSM in high school and my first 3 years at ‘Hurst before moving to close defense my senior year. I started coaching right after college at McQuaid Jesuit in Rochester. I coached 6 seasons at McQuaid with my very good friend and former teammate at Mercyhurst, Dan James. From there, I took the assistant coaching job at Albright College in Reading, PA and coached for one season. I was hired by ASU in July 2014 and will be entering my first season with the team this spring.
What style of play do you like to use?
As a player, I like to push the ball in transition and I encourage my players, especially defensemen and LSM’s, to be a threat to score every time they touch the ball. My aggressive playing style has definitely transferred over to my coaching style and I like to have a more run and gun style approach to the game.
What is the make-up of your coaching staff?
We have a great infrastructure of coaches at ASU. Todd MacRobbie is our associate head coach and will be his 5th season with the team. He’s been a tremendous asset for me personally and he is great with the players. Ben Vosika is on board again this year as the team’s faceoff coach for his 6th season. He’s been instrumental in developing our faceoff guys and is a big reason why Zach Handy has been so successful. Jim Mirabito is our strength and conditioning coach as well as a board member. Jim’s knowledge and guidance in the weight room is unmatched and helps players develop and train their bodies for the rigors of the season. Brian Braasch will be entering his first season as an assistant coach for ASU. Coach Braasch graduated this past May and started at LSM. He brings an unparalleled passion for the game and relates well to the current players on the squad.
Did you have a pre-game ritual as a player? What was it?
My freshman year at Mercyhurst, all the upperclassmen defenders wore their eye black as backwards “7”s and I thought that was cool so I wore mine like that for the rest of my college career. I also listened to Linkin Park before every game.
Favorite lacrosse memory as a player?
At Mercyhurst, we were down 7-6 with 30 seconds left in a home game against Lemoyne. They were ranked #1 in the nation and we were #2 at the time. They had called a timeout and at the restart, my teammate, Matt Sphar and I doubled the ball carrier who was Mike MacDonald. We stripped the ball, I picked it up and chucked it down the field. My roommate and starting attackman, BJ Linder, got the GB out of the scrum and made a pass to my brother, Mike Thon, who was trucking downfield and he stepped in and cranked one from the outside to tie the game with 5 seconds left! I remember running down the field after seeing this all happen and I jumped up in the air, my brother caught me and I put my fist up in the air in celebration. It was awesome.
Favorite lacrosse memory as a coach?
I had the opportunity to coach three brothers while I was at McQuaid. The oldest was a senior my first year coaching, the middle was a freshman and the youngest was a 7th grader. The eldest just got engaged, the middle is a senior captain at UNC and the youngest is a sophomore at Ohio State. Those boys and their parents have become very close to me and I consider them to be my second family
Name three things on your lacrosse bucket list
- Advocate and grow the game on the West Coast
- Coach and or play in Europe
- Start my own lacrosse company
What one piece of advice do you have for the young player looking forward to playing in high school?
Have fun! Enjoy the game, play with your friends and dream big!
What one piece of advice do you have for the high school player hoping to play in college?
Treat every practice like it was the last game you were ever going to play. Every opportunity you have to play is a privilege. The moment you take your abilities, health, and/or talent for granted is when someone passes you by and takes what you’ve been working hard towards.