The love of the game is what motivates Kyle Thurston, number 10 and guard for the Quad City Flames, a local men’s American Basketball Association semi-pro basketball team.
“I am addicted to that competitiveness,” he said. “I am addicted to the lights and big stage so I definitely seek it out.”
However, Thurston’s thirst for competition didn’t start on the basketball court. As a kid, he was a competitive chess player with a chess coach and all. He loves the strategy and being able to think three to five moves ahead.
“You have to anticipate where players are going,” he said. “That translates to me when I play defense. Being able to see and anticipate plays before they happen.”
From Vancouver, Washington, Thurston grew up homeschooled and is one of four siblings. He has always had a love for basketball, but growing up enjoyed playing soccer because of the strategy and competitiveness. He graduated from Columbia River High School in 2009. Thurston and his team had the most wins in school history. He finished on the all-time most assist, most steals and most three pointers made and finished in the top five on the scoring list. He also had the opportunity to experience what competing in a state championship felt like. A championship that ended in an injury that would end his high school career. In the first quarter of the game, he tore ligaments in his right ankle that prevented him to play for the rest of the season.
“I watched most of the game which was a pretty frustrating way to go out,” he said
Thurston went on to play one year at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington.
“We had a really, really good team,” he said. “I had to fit a different role than what I was used to playing.”
The coach in college asked Thurston to be more of a facilitator and defender on the court. They ended up going undefeated in the league. He said It was the first time that a team had gone undefeated in the West region in 35 years.
Thurston enjoys doing one-on-one basketball training with middle school and high school students. Although he isn’t training at the moment, many of the players that he coached still contact him for workouts and such. His advice for young athletes is to be confident in yourself and keep working hard.
“Stick to who you are and shoot for the stars,” he said.
Basketball runs in the Thurston family. His grandfather, Dan Thurston, is a hall of fame basketball coach in Vermont and has won many state championship games. Although his dad didn’t play in college, he still plays for fun. Thurston said his dad always instilled in him to be humble and always be hungry. Growing up Thurston played against his brother Derek Thurston and childhood friend and college teammate Sean Price in their driveway. Thurston said that he enjoyed playing with his brother and Price.
“No one can beat us at three on three,” he said. “We can all shoot and pass and know how to play the game. It’s fun to play with people who know how to play.”
Growing up, Price said that Thurston was always trying to get as good as his older brother Derek, who was three years older than him. His defense is what surprised Price the most on the court.
“He never backs down from a challenge,” Price said. “His IQ is above and beyond and it separates him from the most.”
The only thing on Thurston’s mind this season is winning.
“I want to win the championship and go undefeated and I want to have fun doing it,” he said.
Thurston is excited about having the platform to play on with The Quad City Flames. His ultimate goal is to play overseas.
The Quad City Flames will be playing the Portland Freeze at Saint Martin’s Pavilion on December 15, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. Thurston is looking forward to having many familiar faces in the crowd for the game. Purchase your tickets here and save buy purchasing online.
“It’s close to home and it will be fun to play in front of people I haven’t played in front of for a while,” he said.
Thurston says that the Quad City Flames has a good team with good guys and although they haven’t hit their full potential, they are making strides to get there.
“The process is what I am looking forward to. Getting to that point and getting on the same page with everyone.”
Marcus Stancil, head coach of Quad City Flames, said Thurston came to him at the recommendation of another player. His first impression of Thurston was that he was a talented player with a nice shot and who works hard on defense.
“Kyle brings talent that forces other players to play honest,” Stancil said.
Quad City Flames Shooting Guard, Will Causey, number five, said that we should expect a high flying, high scoring exciting game between Quad City Flames and Portland Freeze on December 15.
“Our biggest challenge will be staying healthy and keeping our main focus on what’s at stake and that’s winning another championship in a different league,” he said.
After winning the MLBA championship in July 2019 the team now has their eye on the ABA championship. Quad City Flames is currently ranked #19 in the league out of 150 teams.
Causey, first met Thurston at a hoop tournament and says that Thurston’s three-point shot was what helped Quad City Flames win the MLBA Championship this year in San Antonio.
“Kyle brings good basketball IQ, high percentage on three-point shots and toughness on the floor,” Causey said.