By Ray Hamill — Like his senior-laden team, the legendary coach is hoping to go out with a bang.
It would be a fitting conclusion to what has been a remarkable career for Steve Thrap, who said this will be his last season in charge of the team.
On Wednesday night, Thrap will be calling the shots from court side when St. Bernard’s opens the Division-VI NorCal boys basketball tournament at Fall River.
With three more wins, Thrap and his players will each close out their careers with a NorCal championship, while a loss at any stage now will see it all come to an abrupt end.
Many of the same players played a pivotal role in the school’s run to a state championship in football earlier in the school year, and it’s a group that has benefitted from a close bond on and off the field of play in both sports, as well as a veteran-like composure.
And Thrap appears to love this team as much as any in his 13 years as varsity head coach, describing his players as a group that will fight to the bitter end.
“They make it easy to coach,” he said. “They come to battle every night. It isn’t something you have to talk them into. It’s in their nature.”
Since taking over the reins of the team in 2007, Thrap has influenced numerous young players, including all four of his sons, the youngest of whom, Lane, is a senior on this year’s team.
Steve is also a former St. Bernard’s player himself, and coached the school’s JV team for four years before taking over at the varsity level.
And he has certainly enjoyed plenty of success with the team as a coach, winning seven league titles, including six unbeaten runs through the Little 4.
But that’s not what he’ll remember the most from his time with the Crusaders.
“I’ll remember the guys. I’ll remember every single team and every single player I coached,” he said, before adding with a chuckle, “not all in a good way. But I’ll remember 98 percent of them in a good way.”
Thrap also won a North Coast Section championship with the team in both 2009 and 2015, and a NorCal championship in 2016.
“For me the wins and losses are awesome but I can’t tell you how many wins and losses I had,” he said. “One year we were 1-23 or 3-23 (20011/12) and that was one of my favorite groups of kids I coached.
“They’re all different. Every single year it was a different group of kids.”