Dr. John Thornton Joins Huffines Institute to Direct TAMU Coaching Academy

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: October 15, 2012

The Sydney and JL Huffines Institute for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Texas A&M announces that Dr. John Thornton, the former Interim A&M Athletic Director and long-time Aggie athletic administrator, coach, and athlete, is joining the Huffines Institute staff as an Executive Professor and Director of the new Texas A&M Coaching Academy.

After more than a year of planning, the Coaching Academy will formally launch in January 2013. The hiring of Dr. Thornton marks an important collaborative effort between the Huffines Institute, the Department of Health & Kinesiology (HLKN), the College of Education & Human Development (CEHD), and the Texas A&M Office of Undergraduate Studies.

"Without the support of all four units, this idea of a coaching academy would not have gotten off the ground. Dr. Kreider (HLKN), Dean Palmer (CEHD), Dr. Wright (Kinesiology), and Associate Provost Kenimer (Undergraduate Studies) have all played incredibly vital roles in helping us develop the concept of the Coaching Academy and in the hiring Dr. Thornton. We think that the Coaching Academy is going to play a large role in continuing to elevate the stature of Texas A&M in both the athletic world and within the coaching discipline," said Dr. Tim Lightfoot, Director of the Huffines Institute.

The Coaching Academy's mission is to facilitate relevant educational opportunities for students interested in becoming coaches, as well as to develop coaching workshops and continuing education/networking for coaches. The Coaching Academy will use the extensive infrastructure already existing within the Huffines Institute and the Department of Health & Kinesiology to deliver programs for future and current coaches in the local, regional, and state-wide areas.

"This concept would not work without an incredibly talented director to pull these areas together and provide leadership. That's why we are extremely excited to have someone of Dr. Thornton's qualifications, expertise, and experience launch the Coaching Academy," said Dr. Lightfoot.

"This type of academy will fill an existing gap for students who want to pursue coaching at the collegiate or professional levels and will augment our already great programs for those individuals who want to coach at the middle and high school levels. This type of resource will also enable coaches who are already working to network with each other, as well as getting the latest information regarding the coaching discipline. Because of this emphasis, the Coaching Academy will actually help the Huffines Institute fulfill its mission of facilitating better practice in sports medicine," Dr. Lightfoot added.

Dr. Thornton played basketball at Texas A&M for Coach Shelby Metcalf from 1973-1975. He graduated cum laude in 1975 and was named the Department of Education's Distinguished Honor Award winner. He then spent two years as a graduate assistant basketball coach on Metcalf's staff and earned his master's degree in educational administration. Thornton spent a few years coaching high school basketball before taking the athletics director and head basketball coaching job at Hill Junior College.

Then in 1981, Metcalf called Thornton and asked him to re-join his staff. From 1981 until 1990, Thornton served as Metcalf's assistant helping the Aggies to one NCAA appearance (1987) and four NIT appearances. During the middle of the 1990 season, Thornton was asked to serve as interim head basketball coach and finished with a 5-7 mark as the Aggies' head coach.

After finishing the 1990 season, Thornton turned his efforts to athletics administration. He earned his doctorate degree from Texas A&M in 1997 and received the 1998 Academic Inspiration Award by a vote of the Texas A&M Scholar-Athletes of the Year.

"I am looking forward to the exceptional opportunity to help students realize their potential as they prepare and begin the variety of coaching related careers available. It is also exciting to be involved with developing programming that will assist current coaching professionals to network, share best practices, and grow professionally," said Dr. Thornton.

There is a wide-variety of programs currently planned for the Coaching Academy. First up is supporting the start-up of the new University Studies Sports Conditioning program, which begins in January 2013. There are also summer coaching workshops for existing coaches planned that will tap the knowledge of many prominent nationally recognized coaches and athletes.

"Our timetable on offerings from the Coaching Academy will depend somewhat on funding availability, but that is something that both Dr. Thornton and I will be continually working on so that this effort is sustainable and becomes permanent. I would encourage everyone to continue to monitor the Huffines Institute website for updates as we get the Coaching Academy up and running," said Dr. Lightfoot.