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Alum turned coach

Alum turned coach

Matt Pryor returns to Minnehaha Academy to take over as head coach of the girls’ varsity basketball team

The Minnehaha Academy girls’ basketball team has been dominant ever since ex-head coach Josh Thurow took over. But now that Thurow is stepping down, who is going to take over his legacy? Matt Pryor has been given the call.

“Matt is a Minnehaha alum who I’ve actually mentored in coaching over the years,” said Thurow. “He is very sincere about wanting to be a great coach and is very enthusiastic about it. As I got to thinking about if it was my time to step down as head coach, it was easier to do knowing that I could hire him.”

As Thurow saw it, Pryor had the job as soon as he announced his stepping down. Pryor has known Thurow since his freshman year in 2007 and has always looked up to him as a mentor and, most importantly, a friend.

“There wasn’t actually an interview process,” said Pryor. “I was on a skiing trip with my brother, his fiance and a couple other friends. I got a phone call from Josh Thurow after they had lost in state and he told me that the job was mine if I wanted it. He said he’d seen enough in me during the season how we ran things at Concordia and that there was no doubt in his mind that I would be the one to come in and fill his shoes. That was a pretty special moment for me. To have someone that you’ve looked up to your whole give you a call like that and ask you to come on home, there’s no saying no to that phone call.”

Although this is Pryor’s first year at Minnehaha as a coach and only second year as a girls varsity head coach, he already knows what he wants to do with the program and knows what the program can accomplish with the talent they have. The playstyle he wants to implement is best described as gritty and tough.

“We want to play fast,” said Pryor. “We have really good athletes and I think we can go eight or nine deep and still have good athletes so I want to be able to play fast all the time. I want to be the type of team where when we come in the gym, the other team starts rolling their eyes because they know they have a whole game against girls that are just grinding it out and doing everything they can to win.”

As a new coach of a program that has done so well in the last decade, there is always the hope that the new coach will continue that legacy.

Having gone to Minnehaha Academy from pre-school to senior year, Pryor knows what that legacy looks and feels like and he is determined to keep the train chugging along. 

“When you’re coming into a new coaching and the guy before you has won as many games as Thurow has and has gone to the state tournament as many times as he has, you definitely feel the pressure,” said Pryor. “However, my goal and the goal of the program is to continue the winning tradition. It’s an exciting thing to be apart of a program that has won as much as Minnehaha has and I think we will continue that tradition.”

Players adjust

to new coach, season

Even after the first few days of the season, the players were already noticing some changes that Pryor has made to the practices and the way they play as a whole. Although it is different than Thurow, they view Pryor as a guy who has all the right makings of being a state champion head coach.

“The first week of practices have been significantly different than the past years,” said senior captain Taytum Rhoades. “Our new JV coach, Coach Block, has a degree in exercise science so he has been conditioning us every other day and running us a lot more which is new. Also, the dynamic parts of practice seem to run differently with Coach Pryor. He has a very determined mindset that rubs off on all the players to come into practice fully focused.”

The girls are still very confident about the team’s chances even after the coaching change.

Although last year was his first head coaching job, Pryor has been a coach at Concordia for the last four years and has accrued the knowledge and skills of what it takes to be a good head coach.

He has also been described as a very hard-working coach that is always trying new things to get an edge over the competition.

“He is really passionate about coaching,” said junior player Kate Pryor who is also the younger sister of Matt Pryor. “He works all the time. He’s always looking up new plays, scouting out other teams and trying to incorporate new drills for what we need to work on as a team. He cares a lot about it which I think is the main reason he is such a good coach.”

Thurow also has nothing but praise for his successor and thinks that he can accomplish great things as the head coach.

“I think the winning legacy of the girls’ basketball team will continue through Matt because he went to Minnehaha when they were good and because of what he did at Concordia as a head coach,” said Thurow.

The girl’s basketball season is in full swing now and the goal from most of the players is pretty clear: to win state.

Although this goal is a big task, the players and new head coach Matt Pryor have high hopes of achieving that goal when the season comes to an end.

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About Michael DiNardo

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