By: Andrew Mason
The hiring of head coach Marisa Moseley in April 2018 meant a full cleaning of the house for the Boston University women’s basketball staff. And while the players needed to adapt quickly to a brand new lineup of coaches, perhaps the greatest uncertainty sat in the future of former Director of Basketball Operations (DOBO), Michael Thigpin, who was left without a job after the end of the 2017-18 season.
One year later, the 32-year-old has graduated college and just wrapped up his first season as the women’s basketball DOBO for the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks. As was the case during his time at BU, Thigpin works closely alongside his older sister, Jenny, the assistant coach at NAU, a Division I school located in Flagstaff, Ariz.
“Having to leave your hoop family behind unexpectedly is always tough, especially when you’ve been through so much together,” Thigpin said. “But NAU welcomed Jenny and I with open arms the day we arrived on campus.”
Thigpin’s two seasons with the Terriers – which included a promotion from Director of Video Operations to DOBO in his last year – prepared him for his role at NAU. However, one of his greatest assets lies in his positive personality, a certain energy that is needed in and around any successful basketball program.
Loree Payne, the head coach of the Lumberjacks, notes how Thigpin has brought this same presence to NAU.
“Mike is a very passionate guy that loves the game of hoops,” she said. “He cares so much about the teams he works with. The kids love him.”
Just before arriving in Flagstaff, Thigpin had a stop to make in St. George, Utah first. In May 2018, he officially walked across the stage and graduated from Dixie State University with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies.
“I made sure my diploma was mailed to my parents house because I knew how much that meant to them,” he said. “My family was there for me through all my trials and tribulations, and to be able to bring joy to their life is priceless.”
Outside of work and school, Thigpin has been busy feeding his travel bug, which manifested during his childhood days of travelling to out-of-state AAU basketball tournaments. In just the past two years, his passion for meeting new people and learning their cultures has taken him to Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
Thigpin has aimed to try and combine his love for travelling and his joy of helping others. Recently, he applied to be an english teacher this upcoming summer at camps throughout China, Japan, Vietnam, and Thailand.
“This is something that I always wanted to do in life,” he said. “Trying to give back to the community.”
Impressively, the Hanford, Calif. native was able to complete his course load online and travel all the while working through an overwhelming mass of change in his professional life. In the past three years alone, a combination of school and searching for a job brought him from Hanford to St. George, St. George to Boston, then from Boston to Flagstaff.
The only constant? His sister, who has not only been his coworker, but roommate through all the moving back and forth across the country.
“I don’t know how she’s put up with me for this long,” Thigpin said, “but to be honest, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the big sis. She’s my closest friend and the motivation for me to get my degree.”
Even with a family member alongside, moving from the metropolis of Boston to a college town of about 70,000 people and a 6,900-foot elevation took some getting used to. Thigpin notes how the two environments are “almost exactly opposite”, while Flagstaff certainly has its perks.
“I do miss the hustle and bustle of Boston tremendously,” Thigpin said. “It’s one of the best sports cities in the world, but just being back on the west coast, closer to my family and friends, is a true blessing.”
Thigpin admits that in addition to the city life, he can’t help but miss the people he met in his time as a Terrier, particularly the players he worked with directly.
“There is such a great group of young ladies in that women’s basketball program who I can truly say inspired me daily to become a better individual,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of lifelong friends and mentors within the athletics department at BU.”
Back in Boston, the feeling has certainly been mutual over the past year. While there is no question that Moseley and her new staff have brought the Terriers to greater heights in the 2018-19 season – including securing a winning record for the first time in five years – Thigpin has certainly been missed by the team.
Lauren Spearman, a BU women’s basketball senior, spent two years in the program with Thigpin.
“I miss him being in the gym when we would walk in for practice,” Spearman said. “There aren’t many people like [Thigpin] in the world who have the capability of truly connecting with people and bringing joy and positivity into their lives.”
Thigpin is currently working on getting his master’s degree from NAU. As for basketball, he hopes his spot within the Lumberjack family opens long term doors for him down the road.
“I really love the DOBO life,” he said. “I could see myself in this profession for years to come.”