Gananda community mourns loss of Thomas Palmer
Posted at: 05/30/2012 5:05 PM
| Updated at: 05/30/2012 7:37 PM
By: Ray Levato | WHEC.com
He was a coach, a mentor and to some of his players -- a father figure. Now the community of Gananda is in mourning.
Thomas Palmer drowned Monday in Canandaigua Lake. He was 49 years old.
Besides his wife and children, he leaves a legacy as a coach who put sportsmanship over winning.
Palmer co-founded Gananda Youth Lacrosse and was also involved in youth sports in neighboring towns including Penfield baseball.
This was a Day of Caring for Gananda seniors but students had another thing on their minds -- the loss of a popular lacrosse coach and friend.
“I just couldn't believe it. I was in shock. I just couldn't stop crying.” Chase Reeves and Nick Smith played on Palmer's JV lacrosse team this season, but both also had him as a coach in other youth sports growing up.
Nick Smith said, “I never lost anybody close to me like that. He was like a father figure to me. As a coach, I was really close to him. All my friends grew up with him and I'm friends with two of his sons. So It's kind of hard on all of us.”
Reeves said, “He was just the coach that everybody wanted to play for. He was competitive, passionate. The kids loved him because he was not only a coach on the field but he was a friend off the field.”
“He also really stressed family and school and sportsmanship was very important to Tom.” Friend Marty Lafica shared with us what coach Palmer meant to so many people in the Gananda community. “You know, he wanted to see kids help other kids up. He wanted to see kids give a guy a pat on the back after a tough play or taking a shot at them. He wanted to see kids look each other in the eye when they shook hands at the end of a game.”
The Ontario County Sheriff says Palmer was under water about ten minutes before he was pulled from the lake.
The Gananda girls' softball team wore black armbands with the initials T.P. for their sectionals game against LeRoy this afternoon. Lafica said, “You know, I loved the guy. And I'm going to miss him. He meant so much to my sons and my family and personally he was just a wonderful human being. And we're short a great person today.”
Gananda's athletic director said Palmer was the type of coach who felt preparing kids for life was more important than wins and losses.