No one ever questioned Annie Thurman-Young's work ethic when she played at Oklahoma State from 2001-05, fully recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered playing high school basketball to earn first-team NGCA All-American honors as a senior while also claiming the Big 12 Player of the Year award. Indeed, during a trip I took to Stillwater, Okla., in the spring of 2003 while researching a feature on then OSU men's coach Mike Holder, I recall talking to Holder on the practice range at Karsten Creek GC where a half dozen or so of his players were practicing beside one woman--Thurman-Young.
Holder noted that she "loved to practice with the guys," getting involved in all sort of contests, from who could can hit the most balls inside five feet of a given target to who could hole the most putts on the greens. "And let me tell you, she usually holds her own," Holder said. "She absolutely hates to get beat."
Fast forward five-plus years, and perhaps it's not surprising then that Holder, now the school's athletic director, announced today that Thurman-Young, all of 26, had been named the fifth women's coach in OSU history. Granted, she wasn't the first name you thought of for the job, seeing as the Highlands, Utah, native had spent her time since graduating with a marketing degree in 2005 trying to break through on the LPGA Tour. Yet in replacing Laura Matthews, who abruptly resigned as women's coach in October, she brings a competitive mindset that can help the program contend nationally.
"I've always wanted to coach and when the opportunity to go back to OSU came up, it seemed like the right thing to do and things fell into place quite nicely," Thurman-Young said in a press release Monday.
Certainly, Thurman-Young satisfies Holder's desire to have a women's coach who can still play at a high level. (She's a former U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links champion and won the decisive point for the U.S. Curtis Cup team in 2004.) The fact that she has never worked as an assistant coach let alone run a program on her own at any level, however, means there is some risk in hiring her to lead a team ranked fourth in the final fall Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll.
Holder believes other factors can offset her inexperience. "She will compensate ... with work ethic, playing experience, enthusiasm and passion for OSU," Holder said. "We are proud that she is an alumna, and this should give her an advantage in selling the program."
Additionally, Thurman-Young will have veteran assistant coaches Alan Bratton and Donnie Darr to help her in the transition this winter and spring.
"I'm coming into quite a good situation with the players that we have right now," Thurman-Young said. "We have a great opportunity to win a conference championship this year and also have a shot at a national championship. OSU has not won a national championship, and there's no reason that we shouldn't win one with the talent that we have and the opportunities that we have at Oklahoma State."