UAlbany’s Katie Rowan Thomson will retire her jersey on Sunday at the Carrier Dome

Thirteen years after graduating Syracuse’s career leader in points, University of Albany women’s lacrosse coach Katie Rowan Thomson will make a different kind of history ahead of Orange’s Sunday game against Stony Brook at the Carrier Dome.

Bethlehem Central graduate Rowan will have her number 21 retired in a pre-match ceremony. She will become the first female lacrosse player from Syracuse to receive this honor and among the first three female orange athletes to have her jersey lifted.

“Yeah, it’s really special and I’m so honored to have been considered in this group of phenomenal women,” Rowan Thomson said in a Zoom call on Wednesday. “I’m really excited, again, for the future because I hope this is just the beginning of recognizing female athletes in this way, not just in Syracuse, but across the country starting in different institutions. So, again, I really admire Syracuse and their athletic program for sparking and using that to hopefully create more opportunities for women to be recognized for their success that sometimes might be overlooked.

Former Syracuse basketball player Felisha Legette-Jack became the first woman to be honored in November. The school is also honoring rower Anna Goodale this school year.

Rowan is still Syracuse’s all-time leader with 396 points and 164 assists from 2005-2009. She was a 2008 finalist for the Tewaaraton Award, which recognizes the top female college lacrosse player. She led Orange to the Final Four for the first time that year.
Rowan said he was “absolutely speechless” when she learned in August that her jersey would be retired.

“I was really surprised and taken aback and upset, really, and when I finally got it, it was really exciting because I see this as a real celebration of our women’s lacrosse program,” she said. . “It’s all about the team and my teammates, the players before me and the players after me in the current team. I really thank the university and appreciate the athletics department for recognizing women in this way. It really is an amazing step.

Her husband, Merrick, who is a men’s assistant coach at the University of Albany, will be at the ceremony with their 3-month-old daughter, Eila. Katie’s parents will also be present.

“It’s so cool that, I know Eila won’t remember it, but we’ll have pictures and stuff like that, just to remember that moment for her, athletically, what her mom did” , Merrick said. “Just a special moment for her and her family and for me, I’m blown away by all her accolades. You wouldn’t even know. She won’t tell anyone. She’s the most humble person and sometimes you have to brag about her.”

To add to the moment, Syracuse men’s lacrosse great Gary Gait will also retire his number on Sunday. He was Rowan Thomson’s head coach with the Syracuse Women before taking over as Men’s Coach this year.

“Just the way he teaches skill work,” said Rowan Thomson. “I just wanted to pick up my stick and play but he really changed the way I think about how the stick is used and the string and where my hands should be placed and I really think he made the job of competence of our team at the next level. ”

Rowan will drive from the University of Albany women’s game at Colgate directly to Syracuse for Sunday’s ceremony. Syracuse’s new women’s coach is former Niskayuna star Kayla Treanor, who wore number 21 after Rowan Thomson.

“I just grew up really looking up to her and seeing her development as a player and now as a coach,” Rowan Thomson said. “It really makes me so happy and it’s amazing that we share the bond of wearing number 21 and it’s wonderful to have it in the game.”

Rowan Thomson said there was no particular story behind her selection of No. 21. She wore No. 20 in high school and No. 11 before that because her birthday is April 11. She wanted to have a number close to her friend and Bethlehem teammate MacKenzie Riegel, who wore No. 22 at UAlbany.

Rowan Thomson’s No. 21 will be in the rafters of the Carrier Dome when she brings UAlbany to play Syracuse on April 19.

“When I come to play at Syracuse, it’s definitely focused on my team and game day,” she said. “But every time I come to SU as a fan, it’s going to be really special when I have that honor…because I had so many wonderful memories at the Dome and at Syracuse.”

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