By Shari Friedel
For the first time in the North Platte Community College Lady Knights’ basketball program’s history, the team will compete on the national level, under the direction of Coach Richard Thurin.
A three-point shot by Lady Knight Destini Lewis with five seconds left in the game against Dakota College in Bottineau, N.D., Saturday, March 5 gave the Lady Knights the lead and District F title, qualifying them for the NJCAA national tournament.
Thurin, who resides in Grant, has coached the Lady Knights for 10 years, and recently was voted the Region Nine Coach of the Year.
Previously, he coached in Perkins County for 44 years. During the course of his employment with Perkins County Schools, he assisted with football, coached girls track, volleyball and basketball and boys basketball.
“I cannot express how proud of my father and his team I am,” said his son, Trent Thurin, who lives in Coleridge, Neb., and attends college at Wayne.
Growing up as a coach’s son, Trent felt his father had a profound influence on him.
“He taught me how to be a team player and always work hard for everything,” he said. “He always pushed me and his players and got the best out of us all.”
“I have never seen him quit anything he has ever done, coaching or life,” he added.
In addition to qualifying for the national tournament, the Lady Knights had a record season, winning 18 of their 29 games.
The team will travel to Illinois Central College in Peoria, Ill., and start tournament play on March 15. At this time, it is unknown who they will play or what time the game will begin.
Thurin’s wife, Karen, Perkins County’s payroll clerk, will accompany him and the team to Peoria.
“This is really exciting,” she said. “He has a really nice bunch of girls this year. They are kind hearted and are always encouraging each other.”