Former players, fans and staff packed the Wa-Hi main gym Jan. 17 to honor legendary basketball coach Jim Thacker in a special recognition ceremony before the boys basketball game against Richland. Big Blue Boosters of Walla Walla planned the event to pay to tribute to Thacker who amassed a 534-332 record during his 36-year career coaching boys basketball. Thacker retired from Wa-Hi following the 2005 season. In 2008, Thacker was inducted in the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Former player Kyle Bankhead, who anchored the 1999 state championship team and is currently an assistant coach at the University of San Francisco, produced a video shown during the ceremony thanking Thacker. Richland High School Boys Basketball coach Earl Streufert, who played on Coach Thacker’s 1983 state runner up team and served as assistant coach on the 1999 state championship team, also spoke and said Thacker positively impacted him as a person, father and coach.
Wa-Hi basketball radio announcer Roy Elia served as Master of Ceremonies for the Coach Thacker recognition program.
Coach Thacker, clearly moved by the turnout and kind words, said he will always cherish his years at Walla Walla High School and thanked the players who gave it their all to form a winning tradition at the school. He said it was always his goal to produce a winning team for the entire community to get behind.
Coach Thacker’s Career Record:
- Gooding, Idaho - 1970-72 (2 State Titles)
- Omak, WA - 1972-1975
- Walla Walla High School - 1975-2005 395-298 (11 State Tournament Trips; 1 State Title)
- Lake City, ID - 2005-2008 (41-28)
Big Blue Boosters President Casey Waddell helped plan the event. He said Coach Thacker left a legacy in Walla Walla that will always be remembered as a coach, teacher and outstanding community member.
Photo L-R: Casey Waddell, Earl Streufert, Jim Thacker and John Golden.