Wrestling coach resigns for new job

Thurston's announcement shocks team

Hosting the trophy above his head as the team celebrates, wrestling coach Jason Thurston guided the boys' to 2016 State Dual Championship by defeating wrestling team defeated Centennial 36-27. (Jan. 16, 2016)

Courtesy of Redhawks Wrestling

Hosting the trophy above his head as the team celebrates, wrestling coach Jason Thurston guided the boys' to 2016 State Dual Championship by defeating wrestling team defeated Centennial 36-27. (Jan. 16, 2016)

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Wrestling head coach Jason Thurston announced his resignation to the team Monday morning. Thurston’s last official day will be Dec. 16 but Monday will be his last day on campus as he prepares for his new job as the Athletic Director and Activities Coordinator at Ballard High School in Seattle, WA.

“[Leaving] is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my 36 years on this earth,” Thurston said. “We tried to negotiate a start date for after the season. The job randomly popped open in September and I applied for it and never heard anything back until about three weeks ago and everything kind of moved very quickly.”

Leaning over with one hand on his thigh, head wrestling coach Jason Thurston put two fingers in the air as senior Austin Bailey scores two points for a takedown in his consolation semifinal match.

Amanda Session-Pharris/Tyrone Pharris
Leaning over with one hand on his thigh, head wrestling coach Jason Thurston put two fingers in the air as senior Austin Bailey scores two points for a takedown in his consolation semifinal match.

The speed at which everything happened left many on the team in a state of shock.

“It kinda sucks because we had him for so long and he’s supported us through everything,” senior wrestler Logan Mize said. “It just happened so it’s still a shock to me, and probably the whole team. I feel like we are going to do great this year, and it’s going to bring us closer together and we are going to miss him.”

Coming off a successful 2016 season in which the boys won the 5A Texas State Duals Championship and girls finished as the 2016 5A runner-up, Thurston has the program at a highest point.

“His team was literally the best in the state,” senior Jordan Robison said. “To have any wrestler go on to wrestle division 1 on scholarship and everything else his team achieved as really something to marvel at. He was honestly one of the best coaches in the state.”

Spending more than eight years on campus, it was difficult for Thurston to tell the team of his decision.

“As you’d expect, [telling the team] was not very fun.” Thurston said. “I hope that they heard in my message to them that I love them, that their dreams are there, and that they were the ones that built this program, not necessarily us. We’ve all served the same culture. I think that the kids that are here, the program that we have is one of the best in the state because of the effort that everybody has put into it. I couldn’t be more happy and more sad at the same time.”

The boys' and boys' team took an unprecedented sweep of the 2016 Region II-5A Championship.

Amanda Session-Pharris/Tyrone Pharris
The boys’ and boys’ team took an unprecedented sweep of the 2016 Region II-5A Championship.

Thurston’s unexpected departure has the team still processing what will happen next, but Robison has the confidence that things will work out.

“It’s tough, and it’s something we are going to have to work around,” Robison said. “But I think we are smart enough and we’re strong enough to keep pushing on and achieve the goals that he set for us since the beginning of the season, so I think we will end up being alright, but it will be tough.”

Even though Thurston is leaving for a part of the country he and his family have always wanted to move to, there’s one thing he will miss the most.

“The people. Everybody always says that, but the coaches that I get the chance to sit in the office with and have fun with and talk with and the kids I get to watch accomplish the goals that they have,” Thurston said. “The little light that turns on from time to time for the fun that we have at practice, at our team socials. I think everybody says it because it’s absolutely true. It’s always the people that you’re going to miss.”