High School’s Football Team Gets a Boost by Practicing at Mason

Posted: January 6, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

In early December, Oakton High School’s football team, the Cougars, won the Virginia AAA Division 6 State Championship after an upset victory over the top-ranked Landstown High School Eagles, 28-7. In preparing for the game, Oakton’s team, coached by George Mason alumnus Joseph Thompson, BA English ’94, practiced at Mason’s sprint turf athletic field.

Joe Thompson coaching
Joe Thompson, center, coaching the Oakton High School football team

Thompson, working with Oakton’s Director of Student Activities Phil Levine and Liaison Mike Sullenberger, a former groundskeeper at George Mason, arranged to use the field with the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics a week before the championship game. Prior to the team’s arrival for each practice session, snow was cleared off the field and the floodlights were set up.

“We maintain a great relationship with all the high schools and try to accommodate them whenever possible,” says George Mason’s Senior Associate Athletic Director Mickey McDade.

Thompson, who attended university athletic camps while a student-athlete and later a coach, found working with George Mason a pleasant experience.

“We were met on the first day, welcomed to campus and taken care of all week,” says Thompson. “I can’t say enough about how well George Mason treated us.

“[The university staff] have always gone out of their way to create a positive relationship with the community,” he continues. “Athletics for school-age children in this area is a big deal. I think there is opportunity for both the school and the community to benefit from a close relationship between Intercollegiate Athletics and high school sports.

“George Mason had a role in our success, and we are grateful for the hospitality.”

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