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End of an era

Hunter Thomas steps down as boys varsity basketball head coach

Thomas waving to the Godwin student section with sons Dylan (l) and Jake at his 28th, and final, senior night celebration.
photo courtesy Thor Macht

After coaching boys basketball for 28 years at Godwin, Coach Hunter Thomas recently announced that he is stepping down.

Thomas decided to step down from his position to focus on his son Dillon’s basketball career at Roanoke College.

He also notes that with the addition of coaching golf at Godwin, the out of season schedule is becoming harder to manage

Thomas will remain as a teacher and department chair with the Business and Marketing department.

Thomas began coaching at Godwin in 1990. Before his role as head boys basketball coach for 18 years, Thomas held the positions of JV basketball coach and varsity assistant coach. 

Before Thomas came to Godwin, psychology teacher Mark Seidenberg and retired math teacher Thomas Hoy both served terms as head coach. Hoy coached for nine years and stepped down with a record of 59-129. Seidenberg took over, coaching for 10 years and stepped down with a record of 107-114.

Thomas will be stepping down with a record of 254-174.  

“Coach Thomas is incredibly organized and cares a great deal about those that he coaches. As a graduate, he spent well over half his life trying to make Godwin the best school and the best basketball program it could be,” said Seidenberg.

Thomas is a Godwin graduate and played basketball at Godwin for three years. He held the scoring record for four years, but has had 16 players pass him in the history of the program. 

Attending James Madison University with a major in accounting, Thomas decided in his junior year that he wanted to begin coaching.

“I love the aspect of coaching and I knew that I wanted to give students the same support from peers and coaches that I had when I was in high school,” said Thomas. 

Thomas spent the majority of his coaching career in the basketball program at Godwin, but has also coached the baseball team, serving six years as JV coach and two years as assistant varsity coach. Thomas currently coaches golf at Godwin, taking over the position from Hoy.

The first sport that Thomas ever coached was soccer at Fairfield Middle School. He also coached girls’ basketball and the baseball team at Fairfield. 

Thomas won Coach of the Year twice in boys’ basketball at Godwin. He has also won three district titles and has been to the regional playoffs four times. 

Thomas summed up this year’s season by saying, “I thought we had a great season, knowing that we had lost the entire starting lineup. I thought we would struggle at first, and we did, but once we all got the idea of what we wanted to accomplish, we did a tremendous job.”

Senior Jon Hardin said, “It was great to play for him. I feel truly honored to have played on the last team he will coach.”

Thomas coached both of his sons and describes the experience as “special.” Setting rules before the season began, he said it was not difficult to coach his sons because they knew he would not discuss basketball once they left the court. 

His most memorable experience while coaching at Godwin has been the relationships he has formed with players.

Thomas keeps in touch with all players, keeping in touch with those who are out of college and have families. 

“After senior year, I always add the players on social media so that we can keep in touch. No social media connection until they graduate,” he said. 

“The best thing about coaching high school students is that you get to know who they are outside of the classroom. Once you build that relationship, they become family,” said Thomas.

Senior Dan Beal has been on the varsity basketball team for two years and said he “admires [Thomas’] dedication to the program.” Beal followed by saying, “He has been committed to helping me get better each and every workout.”

Junior Ethan Joynt admires Thomas’ inclusiveness of players at practices and said Thomas “never had any of the players just sitting around; he was always giving the players opportunities to improve.”

Although he has built strong relationships with future and past players, it is not all fun and games.

Thomas said the hardest part of coaching high school students is dealing with bad decision making off the court and because teenagers do not think far in advance, it is hard to keep them on track for their futures. 

Thomas loves coaching because of the unity it requires saying, “You can take a group of people and accomplish anything you set your mind to together.”

Thomas’ favorite part of basketball is that because it moves so quickly, players and coaches have to make decisions quickly.

“My son Dylan used to ask me if I heard the chants the opposing team’s fans would scream at him and I would always tell him that I don’t hear anything once the game starts. Unless coaches touch me and get my attention I can’t hear them,” he said.

Thomas has worked with many other coaches throughout his career saying, “Coach Seidenberg is the foundation of everything that the program has become. I’ve had tremendous assistants that have put in a lot of work and have helped create what we have created here at Godwin.” 

Thomas steps down from his position with one piece of advice for the basketball players at Godwin: “Don’t ever have something that you are going to look back on and regret not trying it. The more involved you are, the better you are going to do,” he said.

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