The former West High boys basketball coach and athletic director at Kimball High is tracking his nephew, Brian Thornton, a setter on a 2012 USA men’s volleyball team.
The team hoped to repeat USA’s gold medal performance of the 2008 games in Beijing, before Thornton joined the team, but ended up just short of this year’s medal rounds.
But the USA team lost in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, Aug. 8, to Italy 3-0, after advancing to the elimination round as the top seed from Pool B with a record of 4-1. Bulgaria, Russia, Brazil and Italy will compete in Friday’s semifinals.
Brian Thornton, 27, of San Clemente, is the son of Steve Thornton’s older brother, Mike Thornton, who is head coach of the Orange Coast College women’s junior college basketball team in Costa Mesa.
“My brother and his family, they’re all over there and enjoying the experience,” Steve Thornton said.
His nephew is a two-time All-American out of University of California, Irvine, where his team won the NCAA national championship during his senior year in 2007.
The 6-foot-3 setter also became UC Irvine’s all-time assists leader with 4,662 during his college career, including 1,645 assists during his senior year.
Brian Thornton joined the Jastrzebski Wegiel club team in Poland three years ago and has been on the U.S. national team for two years.
Steve Thornton said that while the team was aiming for the gold medal, just having the chance to see a relative compete in London made the Olympics a big deal for Brian’s extended family.
“There are only 12 guys on the team, so it’s highly competitive to make the team,” he said. “It’s just been a great experience for him.”
• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.