By Ray Hamill — The St. Bernard’s Crusaders said farewell to a legend this week when boys basketball head coach Steve Thrap closed out a hall-of-fame career.
After 17 very successful years with the program, including 13 in charge of the varsity team, the long-time coach has decided it’s time to move on, a decision that leaves a big void to be filled in Crusadersville.
Few people can claim to have had such a complete impact on one local program, and Thrap will go down in the annals of SB history as not just one of the greatest ever to coach basketball at the school, but also one of the greatest ever to play basketball at the school.
He is as much a part of St. Bernard’s basketball as St. Bernard’s basketball is a part of him, and all four of his sons also played for him during his tenure there.
(As he told me this week, he “proudly” coached all four of them.)
He was (and still is) a complete coach, someone who understands all aspects of the responsibility, and someone who always puts his players first.
Like any good coach, Thrap is a master in the art of deflecting blame from his players to himself after a loss, and just as effective at ensuring they get all the credit after a win.
And you don’t have to be around this coach long to understand the genuine affection he has for his players and the connection he has with them.
His impact was defined more by what he achieved off the court with the many players he coached over the years than the tremendous success his teams achieved on it.
And I expect the multitude of young men he influenced over the years will remember in hindsight how he impacted them as people more than any success they may have achieved while playing for him.
That’s another sign of a good coach. That’s the sign of a mentor, a teacher, someone whose presence in your life lasts long beyond their time in your life.
And it doesn’t end there.
Thrap, as far as I can tell, is just as respected by his opponents and opposing fans who know the man.
And even some officials, whom he never publicly had a bad word for or blamed for a loss, although I’m sure he didn’t always agree with them, and I’m pretty sure he let them know at times.
In short, Thrap is a well-respected figure in North Coast sports, who acts in a respectful manner.
When I asked him this week what he’ll remember most about his time coaching the Crusaders, the answer had nothing to do with the two NCS titles, or the NorCal tournament championship, or any of the seven league titles.
“I’ll remember the guys,” he said. “I’ll remember every single team and every single player I coached.”
And that’s exactly why St. Bernard’s will miss Steve Thrap.