JEFFERSON residents thumbing through this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated may have done a double-take on page 20.
Hall-of-fame Dragon wrestling coach Doug Thurmond is featured in the “Faces in the Crowd, Coaches Edition” section of the April 9 issue of the magazine.
Faces in the Crowd is a weekly segment of blurbs highlighting achievements in amateur athletics.
Thurmond, 50, was recognized for guiding Jefferson to its 12th consecutive traditional state title back in February.
"Yes, it was a great honor and kind of surprising," Thurmond said. "I look at it like it's a great thing for our kids and for our school. I've been lucky enough to have a lot of great kids and a lot of kids that worked hard. It's definitely not my honor, but all our honor."
The publication points out that the Dragons’ state title streak is the longest for any program in any sport in the state. Sports Illustrated also references Thurmond’s 440-66 head coaching record.
“We were just very thrilled for Doug,” Jefferson principal Kevin Smith said. “He’s very deserving. For the kids, for the program, for the school, it’s just a real tribute to all of them.”
Smith said he nominated Thurmond for the recognition right at the end of the wrestling season. The principal was then contacted by Sports Illustrated just prior to spring break. Smith recalled confirming to an editor from SI that this was indeed Jefferson’s 12th consecutive title.
“He said, ‘I don’t know of any team anywhere at any level that has won that many,’” Smith said. “And I said, ‘well, there probably isn’t.’”
Thurmond was overseas chaperoning Jefferson High School’s World War II trip when the magazine hit the newsstands.
Those back home to read it, however, were thrilled.
“I think it’s just absolutely marvelous and certainly well deserved,” Jefferson superintendent John Jackson said. “The job Doug has done with the wrestling program at Jefferson speaks for itself.”
Jackson noted that he’s been in education for nearly 40 years and has “never been associated with a situation quite like the one that exists with that wrestling program.”
Thurmond was highlighted alongside six other coaches from around the country — Shelly Dearden (Ewing, N.J.), the first female coach to lead a boys’ basketball team to a New Jersey state title; Freddy Johnson (Greensboro, N.C.), winningest boys’ basketball coach in North Carolina high school history; Shawanda Weems (The Bronx, N.Y.), a track coach honored by White House’s Champions of Change program; Bob Weir (Frisco, Texas), a six-time state champion boys’ soccer coach in Texas who reached 500 wins; and Teri McKeever (El Cerrito, Cal.) and David Durden (Concord, Cal), a swimming and diving coaching combo at the University of California who won repeat national titles in both the men’s and women’s ranks.
Smith said the recognition couldn’t have happened to a more humble person.
“Doug is just so humble and so down-to-earth,” Smith said. “He always deflects any attention off of himself and puts it right back on the kids.”