Minium: Thomas DeMarco, ODU’s first quarterback, is the first football player in the Sports Hall of Fame
Through Harry minium
Thomas DeMarco was the first quarterback at Old Dominion University. He’s the guy who threw ODU’s first touchdown pass, led the Monarchs to a 9-2 record in their debut season in 2009, and was a major player in helping the University create the program. most successful start in NCAA history.
It is therefore fitting that he is the first football player to be inducted into the ODU Sports Hall of Fame.
DeMarco is part of the largest class in the ODU Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is scheduled for Saturday morning at the Priority Club at SB Ballard stadium. The event is sold out.
He will be joined by Kent Bazemore, the former ODU basketball star who now plays with the Los Angeles Lakers; Olympians Stephanie Roble (sailing) and Arni Arnason (men’s swimming), Jim McGovern (men’s golf), Mark Zagol (sailing) and former director of sports information Carol Hudson.
DeMarco said he was stunned and remains in shock at the phone call he received saying he was elected to the Hall of Fame.
“It’s something I never really thought about,” he said. “My family and friends made a bigger deal out of it than I did.
“But it’s pretty special. I’ve received a flood of text messages, emails and phone calls.”
A native of Pasadena, Calif., DeMarco was drafted into ODU at the College of the Deseret, a junior college in California, where he was an outstanding quarterback and punter. At first, then offensive coordinator Brian Scott recruited him as a punter and only offered him a partial scholarship.
“I remember my coach telling Coach Scott he was a really good quarterback and Bro’s response was ‘we’re good’,” DeMarco said.
But Scott took a video of DeMarco playing quarterback at Norfolk and quickly called back with a full purse offer.
Just behind coach Bobby Wilder, DeMarco was the face of the program during those first two seasons, when ODU played a schedule made up of Division II schools and FCS. He had 5,732 career yards and rushed for 1,456 yards and 30 touchdowns. ODU was 21-6 in games started by DeMarco.
ODU made a statement in 2010 losing to William & Mary, 21-17, in a hard-hitting game in which the Monarchs signaled they were ready for high-caliber FCS competition.
He was injured in ODU’s fifth game in 2011, the Monarchs’ first in the CAA, when a UMass player rolled his ankle. A freshman named Taylor Heinicke has stepped off the bench to replace him, and he would set academic achievement records that will likely never be broken and is the quarterback for the Washington football team.
Heinicke and DeMarco remain good friends.
DeMarco said he and his teammates were mesmerized by the sold-out crowd in ODU’s opener, a 36-21 victory over Division II Chowan University.
“We all knew what it was like to play in front of mom and dad and 1,000 people,” he said. “We executed the offense without a huddle and we were almost game behind because our center, Jeremy Hensley, was watching the crowd wave.
“We were all doing the same thing. That’s what we wanted when we came to ODU. To hear 20,000 people wanting to be there, to see thousands of people chasing, that was all we could ask for because people were engaged. “
DeMarco’s ankle never really healed his senior year, but he had a pretty solid career in the Canadian Football League, playing from 2012 to 2016 in British Columbia, Ottawa and Edmonton. He pitched for 1,325 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013 for the BC Lions.
DeMarco then returned to ODU in 2017 as a fundraiser and helped the Old Dominion Athletic Foundation raise funds for key projects, including the Priority Club. He lives in Vancouver, Washington with his wife, Julie, and two year old daughter, Ava.
He is a financial advisor for Edward Jones Financial Services and attributes his time to ODU, particularly his time on the football team, for his professional success. DeMarco earned his MBA while playing ODU and completed enough accounting courses while working for the ODAF to take the accounting exam.
Once, during a job interview, he was asked if he could memorize five models to present to potential clients. He replied that he had to memorize over 100 plays as a quarterback.
He said his induction was a tribute to everyone associated with the ODU football program in 2009.
“It was a combination of the administration, the coaching staff and the players,” he said. “It’s more than a sport. Football has made me a better person. I hope that’s what will be celebrated.”
Bazemore cannot attend due to his obligations to the Lakers. Bazemore’s family are expected to attend, as are the other six inductees and their families.
Bazemore was the Colonial Athletic Association’s two-time defensive player of the year entering his tenth NBA season
Arnason was a two-time Olympian, representing Iceland in 2008 and 2012, and two-time NCAA qualifier at ODU.
Roble represented the United States at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and was a three-time All-American at ODU.
McGovern was third at the Sun Belt Championships in 1987 and 1988 and was Virginia Intercollegiate State Champion in 1987. As a PGA professional he won the Houston Open in 1993.
Zagol was an All-American in 1998 and 1999 and was a finalist for National Sailor of the Year in 1999.
Hudson was a student manager of the ODU Division II National Championship men’s basketball team in 1975 and served ODU for nearly four decades as a sports information intern, news director sportswoman and deputy sports director for communications.
Hudson blue, the powder blue color sometimes worn by ODU sports teams, bears his name.