Friday, April 30, 2010

MSU math major, basketball player succeeds in both arenas

April 29, 2010 -- By Evelyn Boswell, MSU News Service

BOZEMAN -- Jamie Thornton saw no reason to choose hoops over numbers or the classroom over the court.

The 6'3" math major and a center on the Montana State University women's basketball team has always seen her height as a gift to be developed, and she has always loved mathematics. Honing her abilities in both academics and athletics, she succeeded in each arena and plans to continue.

She was one of 40 top seniors who received an MSU Award of Excellence this spring. The award goes to seniors who have at least a 3.5 grade point average and have demonstrated campus leadership and community service. Thornton earned a 3.96 grade point average, was captain of the women's basketball team, helped start a recycling program in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse and involved herself in other community service activities around Bozeman.

Thornton also served as president of MSU's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was a four-time Big Sky Conference All-Academic. She won the Bobcat Pride Award in April for best exemplifying the women's basketball program on the court and in the classroom.

"When you look at student athletes that have been successful both academically and athletically, they always have two consistent traits: work ethic and time management," said Tricia Bader-Binford, head women's basketball coach. "Jamie is extremely organized, wakes up every day with a positive attitude and has seen every obstacle as a detour rather than a road block. She commits herself in everything she does and knows you have to work hard in order to achieve the desired results."

Thornton will graduate Saturday, May 8, as one of nine women and five men in the Department of Mathematical Sciences who earned bachelor degrees in the past year. In all, she will be one of 24 women and 21 men in the department who will be recognized for earning a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree.

Math interests her for two reasons, Thornton said.

"First, my mind just works that way," she said. "I like the repetition in math where you learn the steps to solve a problem and then apply them over and over again. Also, as I've gotten into higher level math, I find it really interesting the way we can model anything in nature with numbers. With just a few equations, you can explain why something happens the way it does.

"Secondly, I really appreciate that there is a right and wrong answer in math," Thornton continued. "... There is all this gray area with English and subjects like that. As long as you argue your point well, you are right. I like the fact that with a math problem, there is a correct answer. There's no gray area. You either get the problem right, or you get it wrong."

With her undergraduate studies complete and her time over as center on the women's basketball team, Thornton said she's looking forward to spending more time with friends, enjoying outdoor activities around Bozeman and watching her favorite kind of movies -- romantic comedies with Hollywood endings.

But she also plans to earn her master's degree in statistics at MSU and assist with the women's basketball program, Thornton said. After that, she's considering combining her dual passions in math and sports by becoming a college coach or working in sports statistics.

"There are usually more jobs with a master's in statistics than master's in pure math," Thornton explained.

MSU math professor Warren Esty, the mentor Thornton honored during the Excellence Award ceremony, agreed.

"Most people who major in pure mathematics end up teaching mathematics," Esty said. "If you want to do other things related to science or business, statistics is a wonderfully fine area to major in. You can usually get a job without having a Ph.D."

Thornton said Esty knows his stuff and was definitely willing to offer her great advice during her time as an undergraduate. Sharing Thornton's enthusiasm for math and sports, Esty, 65, said, "I'm a big fan of continuing sports if possible."

Others who contributed to her success at MSU were members of the Bozeman community, Thornton said. Grateful for their support, she said she wanted to give back by helping with recycling efforts, Special Olympics basketball, Lions Clubs basketball clinics, Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter and more.

Those who have supported her interests and abilities for her entire life are her parents, Thornton said. Her father, Joe, is principal at Pullman High School in Washington. Her mom, Sandy Martin, does freelance editing for schools around the Pacific Northwest. Both drove her to basketball practices when she played club ball as a youngster. Later, they drove all over Washington to watch her play basketball for her high school and guide the Pullman High School team to third place in the Washington state tournament. They also supported Thornton's academic interests from the time she joined her first math club in elementary school to the time she became valedictorian of her high school class. When she received a full-ride scholarship to play basketball at MSU, their enthusiasm continued.

"They have been so supportive through the entire process," Thornton said. "Playing college ball isn't always easy. It's not always the fairytale you think of."

Spectators got a glimpse of that this school year when Thornton injured her knee during the opening game of the Thanksgiving classic and missed the next 11 games. Thornton said it was tough to lose that much time because of an injury, but she was philosophical about it.

"You have just got to realize that stuff happens," Thornton said. "You can't control everything. It just happened. You've just got to take your lumps and roll with the punches. Stay optimistic. Keep a sunny disposition."

It's that kind of attitude that helped make Thornton a winner, Bader-Binford said.

"Jamie is the epitome of putting the team before self," the coach said. "She is the first one to praise, celebrate, cheer and encourage a teammate. She is the most positive and unselfish student athlete I have ever coached.

"She competes every day with enthusiasm, and at the end of the day, she raised the level for going above and beyond what is expected," Bader-Binford continued. "She is a true leader who has a mentality of optimism regardless of the adversity. She has been and will continue to be a winner in everything she chooses to do."
Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New & Something Different

I am not talking about the hand shake that Katie Bussey just tried to teach me. She has seven different ones, and mine is the easiest.

I am talking about changing your routine in a new and exciting way.

Last week's Challenge; Ball Handling in the Racquetball Court.

You have probably heard me talk about this workout before but I never put my players through it until last week. In Katie's words, it was "VERY HELPFUL."

Tip #1: Pound the Ball as Hard as You Can (strengthen fingers, forearms, shoulders)
Tip #2: Exagerrate Your Moves (increase your feel for the ball)
Tip #3: Don't be Afraid to Make a Mistake (four walls to bounce it back)
Tip #4: Shift Your Weight Behind Your Move (where you get your explosiveness)

The only requests we were left were to paint the bland walls and fix the dead spots in the floors. Other than that, we are on our way to improving our performance off the dribble and are having a lot of fun doing it.

p.s. If video arises on my blog, remember I haven't played in 8 years, so I am really following Tip #3.

Coach Bin

Friday, April 23, 2010

Good Onya Mate

G'day Mates! As Coach Bin's first "guest blogger" I am honored. Here are a few tidbits from my recent recruiting trip to Australia.

The day that never happened: I left Bozeman on Tuesday 13 April (Aussies put the day before the month, I'm gonna try and see if I can start something like that in the states, overall it just gets confusing, especially on the first 12 days of the month). I was delayed on my flight from Bozeman to Denver and missed my connection to LAX. Not good when you only get a few flights to Australia each day out of LAX. Cristi at Anthony Travel was amazing and got me on a Southwest flight and I made my Qantas connection (My bag did not). I landed 14 hours later in Sydney on 15 April. Yep, 14 April never happened for me. Luckily I got to make it up on the trip home.

Packing Philosophy: When not traveling with the rest of the team, I usually pack a backpack with work/office things and a rolling carryon with clothes and toiletries. An international trip however I thought I should check a bag (might have to bring home some souvenirs for my daughter). Anyways after missing my connection in Denver, my bag did not make it to Sydney with me on 15 April. My bag finally arrived at our hotel on 17 April (yeah I was in the same Montana State shirt for most of the tournament) in time for me to take the bag back to the airport for our trip to Melbourne. I still haven't decided if I will carry on next trip, but I am definitely considering it.

FOOTY: For those of you that have never seen Australian Rules Football...find it on youtube! (Here is a clip Rebecca Mercer -(Bobcat Legend) sent my way: Ok, so my guide on this recruiting expedition was Kelvin Taylor from Showtime Basketball. He took myself and 3 other coaches to St. Kilda vs. Fremantle. All I can say is WOW! Our American footballers are soft, these guys are sprinting 12+ miles every game up and down a 150 metre field with no pads getting crushed. The fans are incredibly intense and the atmosphere was great. It was definitely not the last Footy game for me.

Basketball: I was here to work. And although I can't go into any detail (NCAA Regulation 13.9.2.rule2.3.niner.9993383) I will tell you that the level of play at the U18 championships was some of the best I have ever seen. The Championship of the U18 was one of the best games I have ever seen and it was what I wish our Championship game (UConn/Stanford) could be. Great players, great offense, strong defense and the best players making the best plays.

Longest day of my life: 20 April started before sunrise as me and the 3 other coaches grabbed a cab to the airport. 30 mins and $90 later we were at the airport. Our flight was then delayed almost 2 hours. Nearly 24 hours later I landed in Bozeman, still on 20 April (and get bag didn't make it!).

Nonetheless, I had a great week, with phenomenal basketball, delicious food, and met some amazing people! I can't wait to go back :)


Coach Scanson

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Women Gaining Respect

I thought I would throw out a couple of tips to our younger generation as they climb up the ladder and gain respect among their peers who are men.

Tip #1

Make Your Shots: How many guys have you seen at rec centers that spend more time acting like a pro with a flashy move rather than actually playing like one? Regardless of whether you are picked first or last, the teams that run the courts are the ones that score the most points. If you can hit the 3, you are on a whole new level.

Tip #2

Learn To Hit the Driver: One of my favorite past times growing up was golfing with my dad. I had no idea back then that that skill would be a huge advantage later on as I play in multiple golf scrambles for booster functions. Men LOVE to have a woman on their team that can hit the driver well when they walk up to the ladies tee. My dad and husband actually respect me too much and make me hit from their tee.

Tip #3

Don't Buy or Cook Low Fat Meals: My husband loves that I can cook, but he has been suspicious or caught me at times with throwing in a dish that was low in fat. They always assume it just doesn't taste as good. You can tell them to cook themselves but be ready for a counterattack.

Tip #4

Stay Away from the Barbecue: It may be a horrible stereotype to say most men don't cook, especially since my dad does and very well, but I am certain that ALL men will be offended if you step one foot next to the barbecue.

Tip #5

The most important tip of all is to be strong, hold your ground for what you believe in, work your tail off and you will have the respect you need from the ones that matter.

Now for the men gaining respect from women, my list of tips is just too long to post.

Don't miss tomorrow's post, however, for the first of many Friday "Guest Postings." Tomorrow is from Assistant Coach Justin Scanson, and his recent recruiting trip to the Down Under.

Coach Bin

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring Evaluations

I thought I would fill you in on the optimistic and pessimistic points of view of spring evaluations.

I don't get enough per diem money to get a quality sit down meal when I travel, especially since my hotel doesn't have continental breakfast.

I had In-N-Out Burger twice in one day and saved on my per diem.

These packets are way too expensive ($175) for not having accurate information.

I got a receipt so I will be reimbursed rather than just having $175 stolen and not getting that money back.

This tournament doesn't have as many teams at it for me to scout.

The coaches have chairs with cushions on them and I get to leave earlier.

We only have one weekend in the spring to evaluate. That isn't enough time to see everyone.

I get to have balance as a coach and spend more quality time with my current team and my family.

Just so you know, I am an optimist and really enjoyed my double double at In-N-Out. I did feel guilty though when Coach Saneholtz brought me the 2nd round for the last game of the evening in front of Rachelle from Weber State who is pregnant with twins.

Amy offered her a fry.

Coach Bin

Monday, April 12, 2010

2009-10 Season Banquet

Tom Schulz will be releasing the award winners on our website, but I thought it was important to recognize a few events that may be left out.

I missed Tyler's (our radio guy/MC) opening remarks because I was at the bathroom.

Our seniors wanted to know why Coach Close wears long sweats rather than shorts when she plays on scout team.

After watching the highlight video, I now know Baeta Bak likes to dance and make faces in front of the camera.

Coach Saneholtz admitted that she doesn't have good aim; to the reason why she threw a roll at Rachel Semansky in the first place. This was relating back to the story of her hitting Rachel in the eye at Texas Roadhouse.

Coach Scanson is the steak police on road trips when anyone orders a steak more cooked than medium rare.

I stole a strawberry off Kathy Close's (Mandy's mom) plate while she was speaking, for my daughter of course.

Tom Schulz could write last year's broken records on a post-it note. This year's list was on a full sheet of paper.

I did give an award to Kelsey Roben for best arms.

My son was still upset with me when we got home for having him sit down while I was presenting rather than allow him to run around with his hands in the air. He has since forgiven me.

The banquet lasted three hours, not nearly long enough to cover the memories and history of an exciting record breaking season.

Good luck to our seniors Erica Perry and Jamie Thornton. We will miss both of you but know you each have more walls to break through.

Erica will be playing professionally in Europe this fall, and Jamie is going to graduate school at MSU, also assisting us with our program next year. Yes, I did say she would be calling out the plays for me since my players can't hear me anyway.

Coach Bin

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Our trip to San Antonio, the question becomes is this work?

Day 1:
Land in 80 degree weather. No more fiction. This is the truth.

We have dinner on the Riverwalk. My son wants to pet every duck along the way.

10:00pm and everyone is still in shorts. Day I was a good day.

Day 2:
Mandy & Monique from NAU finish in the Top 5 in the 4Kay Run. Great job representing the Big Sky while the rest of us are sleeping.

Watch some practices & on court programming before going out on a date that night with my husband.

My former coach, June Daughtery, WSU Head Coach, offered to babysit. She texts me during dinner, "baby is asleep, we're playing hide and go seek, and I am winning! Stay out and have fun." How many of your coaches would do that for you?

Day 3:
Happy Easter. What an important day to remember of Jesus rising again, a day of HOPE.

What does everyone do after a morning of celebration and worship? We all overeat at an all you can eat buffet of course. I find out that my daughter now likes bacon!

I experience my first Division I Conference Captain's meetings. Everyone jokes with the rules committee on the spin/travel call!

Semi Finals tonight. Halfway through the second game both kids are asleep on Todd and I. Are these really my kids? jk Sherri did look good, Geno had one hair misplaced, Tara stood at least one time, and Kim burned over 400 calories in her entertaining sideline antics.

Day 4:
Early morning business meeting that lasted four hours. Good news-we got through the voting. Bad news-not everyone knew that New Orleans won the Super Bowl on the first question asked.

The rest of the day was spent recovering from that meeting.

Day 5:
Convention programs again. The WBCA did save the best for last as we listened to Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Is she amazing. She answered questions for 45 minutes. We have a lot in common as she listens to Led Zepplin while she works out as well.

Championship game-Who would have guessed halftime would be 20-12 Stanford. I wish both teams could have shot better, but I want to thank the fan behind us who gave my daughter some spectacular dance moves.

Day 6:
Back to Bozeman. To answer the question, is this work? If you have to say yes then you are in the wrong profession. I have definitely found the right one!

Coach Bin

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Eclectic Morning

What a crazy morning.

I woke up ON MY OWN, not to Brooklyn or an alarm. It was a MIRACLE.

I walked into Brooklyn's room and saw Justin teaching her how to dribble with her left hand, saying, "you have to be able to dribble with both if you are going to play for mom."

Brooklyn then smirked at Justin and said, "WNBA."

As I am getting ready to make breakfast the phone rang. It was Geno Auriemma!

He says, "The team is boarding the plane to San Antonio and I remembered when the Olympic Festival was there and you hit the shot for us, (The West Team), to go into overtime. What a shot that was! I shouldn't have taken you out in overtime."

I responded, "Are you saying you made a mistake? Just don't do it to Maya. I think she should stay in!"

He then asks, "How do you think we will do against Baylor?"

I tell him, "You better look as good as Kim."

His answer, "She may win in the wardrobe, but I will have better looking hair."

I then got ready for work, Todd handed me a diet pepsi for the road, kissed my family bye, and headed out the door.

What a beautiful morning; blue skies, nearly 80 degrees. It feels like summer.

As I am driving to work, Dan Hughes, San Antonio Silver Starzz GM, calls me about seeing the family when we arrive.

Dan says "Helen Darling is pregnant again and going to be out for the season. We don't want to teach a new point the system for just a year. Will you consider playing for the Starzz just this summer?"

My response, "Dan, I barely got through my team's ab workout yesterday!"

I get to the Fieldhouse and remember


The truth in this blog

1) Justin and Brooklyn were playing in her room together.
2) I did play for Geno at the Olympic Festival when I was in college and hit the shot to go into overtime
3) The fam did give me kisses to go to work, but I grabbed my own diet pepsi.
4) And it will be in the 80's when I get to San Antonio tomorrow. It is, however, snowing in Bozeman this morning.
5) I did barely get through the team's ab workout

Coach Bin