Reigning DIII assistant of the year steps away

When the women’s basketball team takes the court for their first official practice of the 2017-2018 season, a familiar face will not be there.

After seven seasons, coach Andrea Thurston (Coach U) has decided to pursue other opportunities and step away from the sideline. Coach U’s presences will be missed by her players and by head coach Stephany Dunmyer. In her seven seasons, the Marlins totaled a record of 110-79 recording, including the program’s first ODAC Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015. Coach Thurston was recognized as the Assistant Coach of the Year for Division III by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)

“Coach U was almost the heart of the program, it is obviously devastating to lose her. No one truly understood us (players) more than her as she played under Coach Dunmyer. It’s evident how much she truly cared about us as players and as people,” senior captain Kellen Phillips said.

“Coach U is truly the ultimate Marlin – her investment in our program has been tremendous since the moment she stepped on campus as a freshman. She was part of the group of student-athletes who truly turned the culture of our program around. She bought into our program’s vision and my vision as a coach. Her loyalty to me, the program, and Virginia Wesleyan have been evident for over 12 years! As a player, she was a great leader for us, and as a coach, she continued to grow every year and positively impact everyone around her. Her belief in our program and our players was huge and definitely played a big role in our 2015 ODAC Championship. Her work ethic is tremendous but it was her ability to really connect with those around her and push people to be their best that set her apart,” Coach Dunmyer said.

Coach U dedicated over 12 years to Virginia Wesleyan as a stand out player, earning All-ODAC Honors along with being a captain her junior and senior year. After graduating in 2009, Coach U returned to Virginia Beach to help coach her beloved Marlins.

Coach U led the women’s basketball program to partner with LifeNet after the tragic death of Nancy Kelly, whose organs were used to save eight lives. The team often brings LifeNet on campus to get students to sign up to be organ donors along with volunteering off campus like they did this past weekend at The Neptune Festival. LifeNet Health is an organization that provides organ transplants for patients that are in need.

Phillips is confident this work with LifeNet will continue as it is truly a part of the identity of the program now.

Coach Dunmyer recognizes the void that Coach U is leaving, but is confident that Brittany Glasco, class of 2015, will be able to step right and make an immediate impact.

“I am a firm believer that amazing people cannot be replaced. However, change is inevitable at times and this transition provides a great opportunity for our new assistant coach Brittany Glasco as well as our players to continue to step up as leaders and truly take ownership of the culture of our program. Brittany brings the same love for the program that Dre (Coach U) had. I am so excited to have another former player take over this position. Brittany loves being a Marlin and she is truly invested in our program and supports our vision. I am looking forward to working with Brittany and I am excited about the energy she will bring and the perspective that she will add! As a player, she led our team to our first-ever ODAC championship. She was an impact player and led our team on both ends of the floor. She can push players out of their comfort zone because she was a player who consistently did that herself,” Dunmyer said.

Glasco sits at 12th all-time in scoring in Marlin history with 1,119 points. She was also a key member to the 2015 ODAC Championship team and the Marlins had a record 76-35 over her four years.

The Marlins open up their season at home on November 15 against Salisbury University at 5p.m.

Luke Chiasson