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Farewell to a lacrosse coaching legend

Submitted by on May 6, 2010No Comment

Glenn Thiel, the head coach for the Penn State men’s lacrosse team for the past 33 years has announced his retirement effective June 30, 2010.

“This was not an easy decision, but it is one that I felt was right to make,” “I have had the honor of coaching hundreds of outstanding young men during my time here and now it is time for me to focus on other areas of life, like my children and grandchildren. Penn State will always be a part of me and I look forward to seeing this lacrosse program flourish in our new conference and gain strength nationally. As this sport continues to grow here in the Centre Region, I look forward to being involved with Centre Lacrosse, helping the youth of this area in any way I can.”

Sport Coach # of years at PSU
Baseball Robbie Wine 6
M Basketball Ed DeChellis 7
W Basketball Conquese Washington 3
Track and Field Beth Alford-Sullivan 11
Fencing Emmanuil G Kaidanov 28
Field Hockey Charlene Morett 23
Football Joe Paterno 45
M Golf Greg Nye 18
W Golf Denise St Pierre 17
M Gymnastics Randy Jepson 18
W Gymnastics Steve Shephard 18
W Lacrosse Suzanne Isidor 10
W Soccer Erica Walsh 4
Softball Robin Petrini 14
Swimming & Diving John Hargis 2
M Tennis Todd Doebler 4
W Tennis Dawna Prevette 3
M Volleyball Mark Pavlik 15
W Volleyball Russ Rose 30
Wrestling Cael Sanderson 2

A Penn State alumnus, Glenn Thiel took on the Penn State coaching job in 1977 following 8 successful seasons as head coach at the University of Virginia. During his stint at Virginia, he guided the Cavaliers to 3 ACC championships, the 1970 USILA Championship and the 1972 NCAA championship compiling a 63-30 record.

Following in his father’s (Glenn ‘Nick’ Thiel) footsteps, he returned to Penn State as head coach in 1977 hoping to duplicate his success at Virginia. At that point, Penn State had still not qualified for the NCAA tournament, a goal Glenn Thiel successfully achieved twice in 2003 and 2005 for the first time in the program’s history. In the 33 years since taking the head job at Penn State, he has compiled a 236-186 mark and his squads have earned numerous top 20 national rankings and conference season titles.

He was also integral in the transition from the ECAC to the Colonial Athletic Association for the 2009 season which provided the program a chance to play against the likes of Towson, Drexel, Delaware, Hofstra, and UMass.

Although the primary focus for Thiel since his move from Virginia has been to capture national championships, it has been a goal that has alluded him for 33 years. His retirement comes amidst a series of mediocre seasons including a dismal 2-11 (1-4 CAA) mark in 2009. In addition to the 7-7 (2-5 ECAC) mark in 2008, 5-8 (3-4 ECAC) mark in 2007, his last few squads have been struggling on the field. In fact, the last winning season under Thiel came in 2006 when Penn State went 8-5 overall, 5-2 in ECAC play.

Despite the horrid 2009 season, Thiel sensed it was time for retirement no matter how the season went.

“I’ve been thinking about it for probably years, certainly all this year,” “If we were 11-2, I’d make the same decision as 2-11.”

Thiel’s retirement should have Penn State fans worried. His announcement follows one by Barry Gorman, another long-time Penn State head coach less than a month ago. It is a disturbing trend for a university that has a collection of head coaches who have been around for a long time with tenure-like status.

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