The new women’s basketball coach has been named and is hoping to bring positive change this season by focusing on growing the team and strengthening team chemistry.
Jenny Thigpin, who started coaching the team as an interim coach at the beginning of the season, has now been officially made head coach. The previous coach, Catherria Turner, was fired at the beginning of the season.
There was an internal investigation on Turner last year on claims that she was discriminating against some players who left the team. The Dixie State University Athletic Department never disclosed the actual reason for her dismissal, though.
DSU Athletic Director Jason Boothe is excited for Thigpin’s new role as coach, he said.
“We feel like [Thigpin] is the best fit for us and all the student athletes,” Boothe said. “Her unique personality and style helps bring a lot to this team. She also has a lot of experience coaching.”
Boothe said he and the athletic department did not look at any other candidates for the position.
“Thigpin was the assistant coach at the time [Turner was fired], and it just made sense for her to become the new coach,” Boothe said. “All the players respect her a lot.”
Thigpin came to DSU two years ago and started working as assistant coach under Turner. Now that Thigpin is head coach, she is trying to make the transition as smooth as possible, she said.
“It really doesn’t change much for the team,” Thigpin said. “Turner was a great coach, and I learned a lot from her.”
The sudden change in leadership was difficult for some of the players, Thigpin said.
“The players have been challenged with a lot of adversity,” Thigpin said. “I have received huge support from everyone, though, starting with the president [Biff Williams], and the athletic administration, the boosters and the players.”
Taylor Maynes, a senior business administration major from Salem, Arizona, is the team captain and can’t be more excited for Thigpin to be the new coach, she said.
Thigpin also has a different coaching style than Turner, Maynes said.
Thigpin is notable for believing in all of her players and giving constructive feedback, as well as pushing all the players to the best of their abilities, Maynes said.
“[Thigpin] is a great person not only off the court but as a coach,” Maynes said. “It’s been a little rough for the first little bit, but we hope to finish strong … Coach really pushes us to be our best.”
This is not the first time Thigpin has been the coach of a women’s basketball team.
Thigpin began her basketball career as a student-athlete at Arizona State University for three years and at the University of California, Fresno her senior year. Before starting as a coach at DSU, Thigpin coached the Buchanan High School girl’s basketball team in Clovis, California, and the women’s basketball team at Fresno Pacific University.
As the head coach at Buchanan High School, Thigpin led the team to a 22-7 record and reached the Final Four of the Central Section Playoffs in California.
Some of the goals Thigpin hopes to achieve as coach at DSU are to work on growing the team, improving team spirit and increasing the number of wins.
Right now, the team’s wins are outnumbered by losses 6-14. Both Thigpin and Boothe said the team is not the best it could be at this point in the season.
“[The team] is not quite where we’d like it right now,” Boothe said. “It will take a few years to get it back and start being competitive in the league again.”
Thigpin and the players will be focusing on growing a stronger team by recruiting new younger players that will hopefully lead to a more established team in a few years, Thigpin said.
“I’ve been pushing all the players really hard this season,” Thigpin said. “They are all doing their very best. I’m proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish in such little time.”
Right now, the women’s basketball team will be taking it one game at a time and will continue to strive for improvement, Maynes said.
“There’s a lot of tough competition in the league,” Maynes said. “But we have good athletes and a good team and a really good coach now.”
The DSU Women’s Basketball team will play Notre Dame de Namur University at 5 p.m. on Saturday at home.