Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.com – St. Bernard’s head coach Steve Thrap talks to his players during a recent game.

I’m not sure St. Bernard’s is sending the right message to the school’s athletes or students this week.

On Thursday morning, the school placed boys basketball head coach Steve Thrap on administrative leave for an issue relating to a recent game, when he reportedly used some inappropriate language during a timeout.

For 12 years Thrap has overseen one of the most respected basketball programs on the North Coast, with, from what I can tell, an unblemished track record, and for all of that to come down to this is bewildering at best.

Certainly he used some language that he should not have used, and he admitted he was wrong, and even apologized for it.

But in the world of prep basketball, this was a misdemeanor not a felony.

It was a remark he used in the heat of the moment. The sort of remark coaches have been using in huddles and during timeouts since sports began, albeit also the sort of remark that should no longer ever be heard in high school huddles or timeouts.

But for one of the longest serving head coaches in the H-DNL (in any sport) to be treated this way seems a bit of an overkill by any standards.

Have we seriously become so over-sensitized as a society that one (relatively minor) mistake simply cannot be tolerated under any circumstances?

Or did St. Bernard’s over react?

One thing is certain, Steve Thrap deserves better.

And I know I’m not alone in believing so.

The reaction on social media has been overwhelming and one of disbelief, with colleagues, peers, former players and fans throughout the H-DNL all showing their support for Thrap and questioning the school’s decision.

Good reputation

As a school, St. Bernard’s has a good reputation within the local community and throughout the H-NDL. The sports teams there generally play the games the right way and represent themselves in a respectful manner.

That stems from the school leadership, the athletic department leadership, and, most importantly, the coaches.

The best high school coaches act in a dignified manner whether they win or lose, and crucially that’s a lesson that rarely fails to rub off on their players.

High school basketball programs are not just about the wins and losses. They’re about helping to prepare the players for life, and the best coaches understand that.

Steve Thrap is such a coach.

He has been shaping young minds at the school for more than a decade, preparing his players for bigger and better things, and instilling in them a keen understanding that life is about far more than wins and losses.

One remark in the heat of battle doesn’t change that.

If there is more to the story than meets the eye, the school isn’t commenting on the matter, describing it as a personnel matter.

Certainly he said something he shouldn’t have said, but he shouldn’t be treated this way because of it either.

St. Bernard’s should not overlook what he has given to the school for the past 12 years.

He deserves better than this, and that’s something the community obviously believes.

Here’s hoping the school begins to realize that too.


Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.