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Greg Lee: Thoreson demanded hard work

A handful of high school coaches have made an impression on me in my 26 years prowling the prep beat in these parts.

One coach who did has retired.

Highly successful Sandpoint boys soccer coach Randy Thoreson had this seemingly permanent scowl on his forehead the first time I saw him back in 1998. It was his first season as head coach.

He had more hair and less gray tint on the top of his head – not that he’s anywhere close to bald now. But age and coaching does take its toll on coaches.

Thoreson, who turned 63 last month, handed in his resignation Monday after 12 seasons. His teams captured seven state championships since 2000, and he finishes his career two victories shy of 200. He finished with a 198-30-17 record, a .868 winning percentage.

Not that that matters. In fact, winning didn’t matter much to him in the grand scheme of things. Winning, he always said, was a byproduct of hard work.

I’d ask him at the start of each season what was his goal. Actually, after his team won a couple of state titles I quit asking. I assumed what the goal was – nothing less than a state title.

We talked just before he hand-delivered his resignation to first-year Sandpoint athletic director Tom Albertson. Thoreson debated whether to retire since last fall. In his heart he knew he was done. It just took him some time to finally arrive at the ultimate decision.

“I’ve got to give him my decision before I change my mind,” said Thoreson, who has co-owned a thriving custom home construction business for 33 years.

He delivered his resignation with a strong recommendation. He wants highly successful Sandpoint girls coach Adam Tajan to take over.

Albertson wouldn’t say that Tajan is a slam-dunk choice. Hey, Albertson is a rookie administrator. He has to say that the hiring practice will be a level field.

Tajan, a Sandpoint grad, is the obvious choice, though. He will be involved in finding a replacement for his job.

Thoreson couldn’t talk about the job he’s walking away from without a couple of serious pauses in conversation.

“It’s no question one of the more difficult decisions I’ve had to make,” he said, choking back tears. “It’s pretty tough to talk about.”

Albertson, a Sandpoint native who may be new to the administrative job but has been well aware of Thoreson’s impact on the boys program, praised the outgoing coach.

“He’s pretty passionate about coaching,” Albertson said. “He had a unique ability to push kids to a point where they got the most out of their abilities and reach kids in a positive way. He was a good role model. He had it tuned in pretty well.”

Oregon athletics

And here I thought Idaho had the corner on the market when it came to making sure that no team was left behind when it came time for state-qualifying tournaments.

Oregon has apparently jumped on board. It’s been proposed that, beginning in the fall, all 37 schools in the 5A classification will make the state playoffs in all sports. From that point, the field will be trimmed to the final 16 for state tournaments.

With the introduction of “hybrid leagues” – the blending of multiple conferences – Oregon’s state activities association believes it’s too difficult to figure out playoff berths in 5A.