Thayer new Pioneer coach

  • Scott Thayer coaches his final game at Greenfield during the 2013 WMass Basketball Tournament at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. RECORDER STAFF/PAUL FRANZ

Recorder Staff
Published: 10/20/2016 10:40:05 PM

NORTHFIELD — Sometimes an athletic director simply needs to look in the backyard for the perfect solution to fill a high-profile coaching vacancy.

Pioneer Valley Regional School athletic director Gina Johnson was able to reach back into the Panthers’ storied history to get the perfect candidate — hometown product Scott Thayer, whom the school officially hired its varsity boys’ basketball coach Wednesday.

“I’m blessed to be able to coach in my hometown,” said Thayer. “I’m really excited for the opportunity.”

Thayer ties to the community run even deeper — the road that leads to the school is named after his grandfather (Frank Sumner Turner Road).

Thayer, 50, is a lifelong Northfield resident who attended Pioneer before graduating from Northfield Mount Hermon School in 1985 and later from Springfield College in 1991.

In 1992, he joined the Panthers’ coaching staff as an assistant to Perry Messer, and in their six years they transformed Pioneer from an afterthought to a state powerhouse, with three league championships, two Western Mass. and two state Division III titles, and a school-record 51-game winning streak between 1995 and 1997.

Thayer sought an opportunity to become a head coach and was hired by Greenfield High School to take over its sagging program in 1997. He quickly turned the Green Wave around and in 2000 captured the Western Mass. Division II title, advancing to the state finals. He was subsequently named Mass. Basketball Coaches Association Division II Coach of the Year.

His teams won league titles in 2000, 2001 and 2004, before a dwindling enrollment eventually forced the Green Wave to move to the Hampshire League with its natural county rivals as he tried to rebuild the program. Thayer completed that turnaround in 2013, when his squad won the IL title, and he was later honored as the Division II WMass and MBCA State Coach of the Year.

He left Greenfield after that season to spend more time with his family — wife Erin and twin 9-year-olds, son Brayden and daughter Riley.

However, he admitted the itch to coach was still there from his first year away.

“I started watching games and it was different at first,” he recalled. “It was the first time in 23 years I wasn’t on sidelines coaching. I started to coach my kids’ teams and that was a lot of fun.”

But once David Hastings stepped down two months ago, Thayer and his family discussed the possibility of returning to the sidelines.

“We talked as a family, and they collectively said, ‘Go for it!’ so I applied. Gina called and offered me the job (Tuesday), and I said I’d be honored to accept.”

Johnson was pleased that Thayer decided to rejoin the Panther family.

“He got his start at Pioneer,” said Johnson, who added that Thayer was chosen from a group of five candidates. “He is a member of our community.

“What I appreciate the most is his commitment to the student-athlete,” she continued. “He understands it is student first, and he’s committed to making better citizens of those he coaches. I also appreciate his belief in a strong work ethic. I look forward to working with him.”

Greenfield Recorder

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