First year head coach named Coach of the Year

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - In his first season as NPCC head coach, Jeff Thurman had to do a complete overhaul of the team. The challenge was Thurman and his staff only had about a month to get it done.

"We had one returner from last year," Thurman said, "We brought in 13 new faces in about 40 days."

Thurman used the contacts he has built throughout his career to find possible recruits for the program.

"Knowing a lot of people throughout the country, and reaching out to new people as well. Using contacts that know somebody, that know somebody, that might know somebody," Thurman said. "It was a whirlwind of 30 days, so it went fast. Right when we got out here in July, we were bringing in recruits every two days, every three days."

Before coming to North Platte, Thurman had spent his professional career in his home state of Illinois, and wanted to make sure making the move to Nebraska would be the right fit for him personally and professionally, and would be good for his family.

"It checked all those boxes. This place is a phenomenal place to develop a program, create a culture, at the institution and the community has been nothing but welcoming," Thurman said.

In his time in North Platte, Thurman has felt welcome, and has enjoyed the past eight months.

"I think that was the hardest part was putting together the team, the rest has been kind of fun and easy," Thurman said.

After a 4-22 record in the regular season, the Knights have won both of their postseason games, and after their game against Central Community College, Thurman was named the Region IX coach of the year.

As for his coach of the year award, Thurman is thankful for it, but knows he is not the only one who can take credit for the distinction.

"You know, it's a great accolade to have personally, something I'm proud of, but I couldn't have done it without the ten of them that are on the squad right now, and my staff with coach Johnston. They get the award just as much as I do. If our kids didn't buy in, and have that all-in mentality and trust me with being their head coach I wouldn't be where I am today," Thurman said.

The Knights play on Saturday, and with a win, would advance to the Division II national tournament in Harrison, Ark.