“Fitness Guru” Dave Thompson Honored With Alumni Association's Distinguished Service Award

Dave Thompson, director of the Charlean and Wayland Blood Fitness and Dance Center, director of Campus Wellness and professor of physical education at Hamilton, was honored as the 2013 Distinguished Service Award recipient by Hamilton’s Alumni Association. John Hadity ’83, president of the Alumni Association, presented the award on April 5 during the Alumni Council’s Recognition dinner.

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes an employee who has substantially contributed to Hamilton through distinguished job performance and through involvement in student, alumni or other activities in the College community.

The citation awarded to Thompson aptly summed up his contributions  to Hamilton. “Anyone on College Hill interested in physical fitness or meeting any other personal health goal — whether it’s losing weight, lowering cholesterol or simply getting in better shape — knows immediately whom to call: resident ‘fitness guru’ Dave Thompson,” it read.

A graduate of Colgate University, where he captained the varsity swim team Thompson earned a master’s degree at Syracuse University. After two seasons as an assistant coach at Colgate and another at Southwest Missouri State, he arrived on the Hill in 1983 as head coach of men’s and women’s swimming and diving. Almost immediately Thompson’s teams earned Hamilton notice as a powerhouse in the pool. Throughout 19 seasons, he coached 123 qualifiers for the NCAA Division III championships and 49 all-Americans. In 2000, both teams won the New York State championships, the first time a coach had guided men’s and women’s teams to the title in the same year.

After four years as director of athletics and chair of the Physical Education Department, in 2006, Thompson took on a broader role as director of campus wellness and the new Charlean and Wayland Blood Fitness and Dance Center. In addition to coordinating intramurals, club sports and physical education classes, he organizes dozens of fitness programs, lectures, health screenings, blood drives and an annual wellness fair.

In 2012 he initiated the first Ham & Legs 5K Run/Walk, and this spring marks the 10th anniversary of the popular HamTrek sprint triathlon. These programs engage and unite the campus community and exemplify what  Thompson firmly believes — “happiness, performance and quality of life on the Hill are surely tied to the level of our collective health.”

In 2009 Thompson was the recipient of The Jerome Gottlieb ’64 Fellowship for Exemplary Coaching at Hamilton. Established by alumnus Thomas J. Schwarz, it is awarded to a member of the coaching staff who exhibits the characteristics exemplified by Jerry Gottlieb - that of a dedicated teacher, exceptional mentor and role model.

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