Westerville News & Public Opinion

Boys Basketball

Thuman retires as Westerville North coach

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In 34 years of marriage, Kevin and Laurie Thuman have not taken personal vacations, but that is about to change.

After 18 years leading the Westerville North High School boys basketball program, Kevin Thuman has stepped down as coach so he can catch up on time with family -- his wife, two children and two grandchildren.

Instead of scheduling trips to AAU tournaments in the summer, the Thumans might travel to exotic locales.

Maybe even Europe.

"We went to Italy once, but that was to see (1995 North graduate) Shaun Stonerook play basketball over there," Laurie Thuman said. "I have to say that this is uncharted territory. Our daughter Katie (Langenderfer) has two children and our son Jake is a senior at Capital. I'm not sure what will happen. It's a new chapter at this point."

Coach Thuman compiled a 216-195 overall record, winning district titles in 1995-96 and 1997-98 and reaching the state tournament in 1995-96. His teams were district runners-up in 1999-2000, 2008-09 and 2009-10 and won OCC titles in 1997-98 and this season.

"It's a good time to leave," said Thuman, whose team finished 23-2 this season. "I have one more year of teaching left, and given the turnover on the team, it will give whomever may be the new coach a chance to work with some young kids for the next couple of seasons."

The Warriors won the OCC-Cardinal Division this season at 14-0. They were seeded second in the Division I district tournament and reached a district semifinal for the fifth consecutive season before losing to Newark 59-55 on March 6 at Westerville Central.

"Being a head coach has become a 365-day-per-year job," said Thuman, who teaches eighth-grade American history at Heritage Middle School and will continue teaching for at least one more year. "The offseason has become to where you just can't get a break. I want to be able to not miss things with my children and grandchildren."

Thuman began teaching in the 1979-80 school year at Walnut Springs Middle School before moving in 1989 to Heritage. He coached middle school basketball in his first year of teaching and freshman baseball in 1980.

"I have taught in the middle schools my whole time and have been coaching something or other for the past 34 years," he said. "I didn't coach basketball at the high school until the 1982-83 season."

Thuman took over as North's head coach in 1995-96 after Dave Hoover left to coach Canton McKinley.

"First thing that you think of about Kevin in terms of being a teacher and coach is how much he cares about young people," Hoover said. "Throughout his career -- all at Westerville -- not only has he been a good coach, but a good teacher. He has won several Teacher of the Year awards. I hope (Westerville residents) understand what a gem they have had for last the last 35 years and all of the things he has done in the community."

Hoover said Thuman became an invaluable right-hand man on the bench.

"I was blessed to have great assistant coaches who I viewed as being better coaches than I was, and Kevin was one of them," Hoover said. "In his 12 years as an assistant under me, I noticed his great attention to detail. Anyone who has followed his teams over the years knows that he got the most out of his players every year."

Senior Jack Gibbs, who has been the Warriors' starting point guard for three seasons, agreed.

"I've known coach since the second or third grade," said Gibbs, who has signed to play at Davidson College in North Carolina. "I know he's passionate about the game and wanted to get the most from his players."

Matt Rhodes, a 2012 graduate who plays at Walsh University in North Canton, said Thuman "was really there for more than just basketball."

"He was always there to support you in any way possible and he cared about all of his players," Rhodes said. "He was open to ideas and listened to you. It's always good to have a coach be flexible in that way."

Shan Trusley, a 1988 North graduate who has been an assistant coach since 1993, said he has seen a different side of Thuman than most.

"When people meet Kevin, they think he's extremely laid back, but really he is an extremely driven individual," Trusley said. "He's driven for excellence and wants the best for the kids in the basketball program. He's so laid back and personable that sometimes people are taken aback when they see that.

"I have never met a coach who prepares more for a game. Even though he's not extremely animated on the bench, he has a plan for what he wants to do. He is motivated with a lot of drive, watching hours and hours of film and trying to watch teams three or four times before we play them. He has a motor that a lot of people don't see a lot."

Laurie Thuman has seen that drive.

"Kevin has been happiest when he is busy and we made that work as a family over the years," said Laurie, who works for the Delaware General Health District. "It's going to be a huge change and we're trying to make plans to stay busy."

Coach Thuman said Laurie always has understood the commitment it takes to be a coach, including time spent at open gyms, AAU games and summer leagues.

"A couple of times we went to Orlando and Las Vegas to watch AAU games, which is fun, but I'm sure Laurie might have wanted to go to other places," he said. "But she understood because her father coached football and track at Westlake. We have been married for 34 years and you can't coach that long without a wife who supports you."

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