GCCC soccer coach resigns, interim named
By J. Levi Burnfin
Five days before the first conference game, Garden City Community College announced in a press release on Friday that the women's soccer team's head coach Kianna Thornberry resigned from the position on Thursday night.
The resignation announcement came a day after GCCC Athletic Director Ryan Ruda announced the originally scheduled season opener at home on Friday against Trinidad State (Colo.) Junior College was cancelled. He declined to comment whether the cancellation was connected to Thornberry's resignation.
According to Ruda, a reason for her resignation was not given.
Efforts by The Telegram to reach Thornberry by phone calls and text messaging were unsuccessful both Thursday and Friday.
Before her resignation, Thornberry was set to begin her third season at the helm of the women's soccer program. In her previous two seasons, the Lady Busters accumulated a 7-27 overall record, including going 1-16 last season as the Lady Busters dropped to last in the 14-team conference. In her first year, 2011, the team went 6-11 overall.
GCCC also announced on Friday that local GC Manchester travel club coach Hector Martinez will be the interim coach for the Lady Busters.
Ruda said the immediate hiring of a coach to replace Thornberry is the top priority.
"We want to expedite the process there but also take our time to find the right candidate," he said.
Martinez has coached several players on the team, including sophomore mid-fielder Deydi Depaz, and was excited during an interview Friday about the opportunity to coach the college team despite the extenuating circumstances.
"It's a great challenge for me and also a great challenge for the soccer program," he said. "The passion is here and I'm going to take advantage of that."
Depaz was still optimistic about the direction of the team under Martinez as interim coach.
"I was very surprised," said sophomore mid-fielder Deydi Depaz on Friday after the Lady Busters had completed their practice when asked about Thornberry's resignation. "I think this will make our team stronger. We already see each other as family, I think this will just make us stronger."
Depaz also expressed how she felt confident in Martinez after playing on his travel team when she was in high school.
"We can trust him. I know him. He's been my coach before so we can trust that he's going to do what's best for the team," she said.
In a telephone interview with The Telegram on Wednesday, Thornberry did not indicate any plan to resign, and expressed excitement about the impending season and her squad.
Ruda expects the team to compete with its schedule as planned, including playing the cancelled match with Trinidad later in the season.
The Lady Busters are scheduled to travel to Hutchinson for a 4 p.m. game Wednesday against the Lady Blue Dragons in a Jayhawk Conference game.