Brandywine dedicates softball field
Published 12:10 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Brandywine High School put the finishing touches on honoring the late Carol Thurston, the school’s first softball coach Saturday.
In front of family, friends and former players, the districted honored Thurston with a new scoreboard proclaiming the facility Carol Thurston Memorial Field.
The Bobcats played host to Schoolcraft following the dedication ceremonies.
Jim Meyer, who took over the softball program from Thurston, recalled working alongside the physical education teacher.
“It is my pleasure today to welcome you to Brandywine softball field and to honor one of Brandywine’s original high school educator,” he said. “Carol had a great sense of humor and I enjoyed conversing with her about her teams when we were at lunch.”
Meyer said that in 1972, he became a groundbreaker when Brandywine launched girls athletics.
“She was a pioneer in that area,” he said. “Most women did not have an opportunity to play softball or volleyball, which she also coached here.”
Because she was launching new programs, Thurston sought the help of men’s fast-pitch softball players she knew in Niles to learn as much as she would about the game.
“She read a lot of books and the picked the brains of a lot of people around here that knew softball,” Meyer said.
In her first three years, Brandywine did not fine success on the diamond as each of those teams ended with losing records.
However, being a quick learner, according to Meyer, Thurston and the Bobcats would have only one losing season over the next 17 years.
Brandywine captured five district titles and in 1977, a regional championship. She ended career with a 321-181 record.
Nancy Layman-Bankston, Thurston’s first pitcher, had the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to current Brandywine catcher Kelly Harper.
Layman-Bankston remembered Thurston fondly.
“I remember our bus trips, our on the field experiences and her friendship mainly,” she said. “She taught us the skills we needed because we were all new to the sport.”
Layman-Bankston was pleased that the field was being dedicated in her honor.
“It just means so much because she was a lovely lady,” she said. “It is nice seeing what she built here at Brandywine come to life.”
The Bobcats did were swept by Schoolcraft 11-4 and 10-9.