Thomas Purcell takes over as head coach of the Park City boys basketball team
Thomas Purcell is ready for the next step in his life.
After coaching high school basketball in the state of Utah for the past decade, the Parkite landed his first head-coaching gig for the Park City boys basketball team.
“Basketball and coaching have always been a huge part of my life, so I’m excited to get my first head coach job at a school like this,” Purcell said. “When the job opened up, and because it happened so quick, I had a feeling that I would be a good fit. I was ready for the job even before it was available. … It was abrupt but at the same time, I understand and am ready to go.”
Former Park City coach Mike Doleac, the former Running Utes basketball star that was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the 12th pick in the 1998 draft, abruptly left the Miners to attend to some personal issues. Doleac, who was the head coach for three years, had Purcell by his side every season he was on the bench for the Miners, so the transition of power was seamless.
“Doleac is leaving the program in great shape for me to take over, and I totally understand and support why he’s stepping down,” Purcell said. “But I’ve been his right hand man for three years, coached the JV team so I know the younger boys and have been his No. 2 for everything. I was really involved so I understand the boys and they understand me.”
You can trace Purcell’s basketball acumen back to when he attended New Trier High School outside of Chicago before attending TCU with his now-wife, Reagan.
His first coaching job in Utah was in 2009 at Juan Diego High School in Draper, where he spent two years. But the biggest turning point of his coaching career began in 2011 when he started out as an assistant coach at Judge Memorial High School.
For five years, he was under legendary head coach Dan Del Porto at Judge Memorial, who was there for 30 years. It was while at Judge where Purcell developed a “we” philosophy under Jim Yerkovich, who became good friends with Purcell’s father in the early ’80s attending Judge, their alma mater.
And now Purcell wants to bring that same philosophy to the Miners.
“We are going to try and get rid of almost pronouns of you and I, going to make everything a ‘we’ statement,” Purcell said. “If somebody misses a shot or a mistake is made, it’s a ‘we’ problem. … If somebody misbehaves off the court and not living life the right way, it’s a ‘we’ problem. We all hold ourselves accountable, and we are all important, and we are all in this together.”
He believes this philosophy change will pay dividends for the boys in the short and long term.
“Someone can miss the last shot and feel horrible, but there were countless other plays that could’ve changed the outcome so it’s not one person’s fault, it’s our fault,” Purcell said. “I want the boys to buy into this new philosophy, because it’ll make their married life easier. … They’ll be better fathers, better employees or bosses because they’ll understand the concept that as group you fail or succeed, it’s not about the individual.”
With the change of leadership happening so quickly, Purcell does want to make some changes, but nothing too drastic. Purcell wants to build off of what he called Doleac’s “solid foundation.”
The one thing he does want to see is, and makes no excuses for, is effort. He believes that a harder playing team and can beat a more talented team, and that’s part of what he preaches every day in practice.
“When people come watch us, I want them to see the toughest and hardest playing team in the state of Utah, simple as that,” Purcell said. “I want them to see that. … And if we do that, everything else will take care of itself.”
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