By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

The Story of Randi Richardson-Thornley

Randi Richardson-Thornley watches her team perform from the sidelines

For Randi Richardson-Thornley, head coach of CWU’s women’s basketball team, coaching wasn’t the path she initially thought to set out on. After high school, Richardson-Thornley attended the University of Wyoming, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and health promotion in hopes of becoming a nurse. She then went on to complete her master’s degree in coaching and athletic administration.

Before attending the University of Wyoming, she played basketball at San Francisco State University for a year as a point guard, before making the decision to transfer. “I wasn’t a city person, I wanted something more homey, and it was an amazing three years of playing basketball for Wyoming,” Richardson-Thornley said.

It wasn’t until after she graduated from the University of Wyoming that she rekindled with her old high school coach and was offered the position of head coaching the high school JV team. Richardson-Thornley attended Arlington High School as a student in 2006 and was the quintessential student-athlete; she garnered All-State selections three times and earned a 4.0 grade point average to become her class valedictorian according to

“Being able to see these girls’ faces and help them improve made me realize that maybe this is what I should be doing,” Richardson-Thornley said about coaching the women’s high school junior varsity team at her alma mater. She coached there for two years before being asked by Seattle Pacific University (SPU) to be their assistant coach for a couple of years. 

“Coaching at SPU was originally how I got introduced into the GNAC [Great Northwest Athletic Conference,]” Richardson-Thornley said. After finishing her time assisting in Seattle she was offered to assist again, only this time at CWU. 

“I checked it out and I loved it,” Richardson-Thornley said. “[I] loved the small town, the state school feel, so I decided to be the lead assistant for two years.” She was the assistant coach under former SPU head coach, Jeff Harada until he received an offer to coach at a Division I school, leaving Richardson to fill the head coach position for the CWU women’s basketball team.

“God has led me in this direction,” Richardson-Thornley said. “[It’s] nothing I have pursued, everything has pursued me. I’m very passionate for basketball and my players. That process is very fulfilling for me.” 

Richardson-Thornley left her mark during her first season as head coach for CWU as the women’s team finished 11-9 in conference play with an overall record of 15-14. CWU also ended up qualifying for the GNAC Tournament for their fourth consecutive year, had nine student-athletes selected to the GNAC All-Academic team and two players with All-GNAC recognitions that year. With such a triumphant first season, Richardson was able to renew her contract and stay on as head coach. 

This 2023-2024 season will be Richardson’s seventh season with CWU. “It’s been a really great year,” Richardson-Thornley said. “We’re really young with a lot of new players [and we have] a lot of players gaining experiences and challenges that have been different every year. We’ve been playing great basketball and we’ve got a great group of young women.” The team’s record is currently 18-10 after knocking out the Northwest Nazarene University Nighthawks this past Saturday, Feb. 24. 

“We struggled with the team the first time around effort wise,” Richardson-Thornley said regarding her worries going into the matchup against the Nighthawks. However, the Wildcats came out on top this time around with a final score of 81-69. All five starters scored in the double digits and the team has now clinched a spot in the GNAC tournament. CWU will face off against Saint Martin’s University in the Nicholson Pavilion at 5:15 p.m. tonight, Thursday, Feb. 28.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Observer welcomes feedback and commentary on our stories. We moderate comments to ensure they are relevant and civil, but the content of each comment is the responsibility of its original author. We do not accept comments in languages other than English or which include personal attacks, unprotected speech, vulgarity, promotional material, or statements which are nonsensical or irrelevant to the article being commented upon. You may also consider submitting a letter to the editor or an opinion piece. Click on Contact Us for details.
All The Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *