In his 48 years of coaching high school and college basketball, North Platte Community College Lady Knights basketball coach Dick Thurin never imagined that he would gain national recognition for a play he never even saw coming.
It was March 2013. Caught up in the excitement of winning the district competition and advancing to nationals, three of Thurin’s players decided to celebrate the victory by dousing their beloved coach with a bucket of ice water. The celebration, however, did not go exactly as planned.
The water was tossed and, with barely a moment to brace for impact, Thurin found himself face down on the slick wood floor.
“When football players celebrate wins with ‘Gatorade baths’ they are usually outside on grass, but we happened to be inside on a basketball court,” he said, adding, “Water on gym floors is never a good thing.”
The laughter and excitement of the players and crowd quickly turned to gasps and hushed silence as Thurin struggled to his feet in the slippery puddle. After assuring everyone that he was fine, the coach dried off and continued the celebration.
His slip on the court might have quickly faded to a distant memory had it not been for Thurin’s granddaughter, who was in the stands filming the entire event.
“She put it up on Facebook and YouTube and before we knew it, it was everywhere,” Thurin said. “When she and my son told me it ‘went viral’ I didn’t even know what that meant. I thought it was something bad.”
As the viewer count grew, the clip of the “Gatorade Fail” soon captured the attention of news media across the county.
“They showed it on ESPN, the Today Show, Fox News, and even Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Thurin said. “It was just everywhere.”
Always a good sport, Coach Thurin played along and laughed with the folks who were laughing at him.
“Once I realized it wasn’t bad publicity for the college I was fine with it,” he said. “It really was funny.”
It was so funny, in fact, that when his son submitted the clip to America’s Funniest Home Videos, they agreed. The video was expected to be shown Sunday, May 18 on ABC. (The clip can also be viewed at http://www.mpcc.edu/videos)
As he prepares for another round in the spotlight, Thurin still isn’t taking himself too seriously.
“I just have to laugh about the whole thing,” he said. “I tell people, ‘If you want to be famous in that manner, just do something stupid.’”