By Jerry Del Priore
After six years at the helm, St. Francis College of Brooklyn Women’s Basketball Head Coach John Thurston decided to call it a career, the school announced Thursday.
“I would like to thank St Francis College Director of Athletics Irma Garcia and former College President Brendan Dugan for giving me the opportunity to share in the journey of these wonderful ladies who have been part of Terrier basketball,” Thurston, 69, said in a press release. “While our current players are making an impact here at school, our graduates are making their mark in their professional lives both regionally and around the world.”
Thurston, a graduate of Archbishop Molly High School in Queens and Seton Hall University in New Jersey, took over head duties of the program prior to the 2012-2013 season, after having served as an assistant to former head coach Brenda Milano for several years.
In his time while guiding the Terries, the Bronx native had earned a slew of accolades including: A Northeast Conference Women’s Basketball Championship; an appearance by St. Francis in the NCAA National Basketball Championship Tournament against the No 1 ranked team in the nation; a high-water mark of 19 wins in a season by a Terrier Women’s hoops squad; and the development of several All-Conference players, some of whom have gone onto professional basketball careers in Europe.
However, when asked about his role in the Terries’ academic greatness, Thurston placed the attention solely on the female student-athletes, especially the group from the 2015-2016 season. It was that campaign when the WBCA awarded the National Championship in grade point average (GPA) to the team—the academic equivalent of the Women’s Basketball National Championship.
““We really don’t do that much,” he said of the coaching staff and the team’s high grades. “While our current players are making an impact here at school, our graduates are making their mark in their professional lives, both regionally and around the world.”
Thurston’s commitment to the women’s hoops program hasn’t gone unnoticed by the higher-ups at St. Francis.
“Even though I only had a few months to get to know Coach Thurston, I saw right away how much he cares about his players,” St. Francis College President Miguel Martinez-Saenz said. “I have nothing but respect for the way he carried himself and the example he set for this program; on the court and in the classroom. What’s more, his focus on helping to graduate well-rounded young women really underscores the emphasis he placed on the student in student-athlete.”
His boss, Director of Athletics, Irma Garcia ’80, concurs.
“Coach Thurston has been a tremendous leader for our women’s basketball program,” Garcia explained. “During his 6 years as the Head Coach of the Terriers, his student-athletes excelled both on and off of the court and the graduates of this program have gone on to do amazing things in the world. Not only did his 2014-15 squad bring us the Northeast Conference Championship, but also in 2015-16 the Terriers put the STUDENT in Student-Athlete and finished first in the Nation with a Team GPA of 3.712.”
St. Francis College school officials said they will now begin a nationwide search for a new women’s head basketball coach.