James Thurn ’11
Posted on: October 26, 2023
Occupation: College Football Coach
If you’re a sports fan in the Upstate of South Carolina, you’ve probably heard his voice.
James Thurn, a 2011 alumnus of North Greenville University, spent many years behind a microphone as a play-by-play announcer and host of the James Thurn Show.
“Growing up, I was just naturally drawn to it,” Thurn recalled. “Dan Scott, who is the voice of the Paladins at Furman, was influential in my life. He let me come around with him as a middle and high schooler. I would set up equipment and do the grunt work, but that’s what I needed to do at that time to learn the business. I volunteered a lot and tried to get my foot in the door.”
Thurn’s love for broadcast grew, but so did his love for the game of football.
“During my junior and senior years, I started getting paid to run the board. Then, when I got to college, I started getting paid to do a lot of different things,” he said.
Thurn decided to study mass communication at NGU in 2007. He was also a member of the North Greenville football team.
“I played tight end,” he said. “We were a pro-style offense under Coach Mike Taylor my freshman and sophomore years. Then, when Coach Chadwell got here, I moved to offensive tackle, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It taught me how to be less selfish. Offensive linemen are putting their bodies on the line so that someone else gets the credit. It’s the ultimate servant attitude.”
He completed his degree and began hosting his own radio show and covering football games.
“I was doing the Friday night games. I was doing some of the small college games. I was sitting in that box and I kept thinking, I want to be in the booth next to me. I want to do what those guys (the coaches) are doing. That itch just kept coming and I felt like the Lord was telling me to go.”
While leaving what he’d been working toward for more than ten years seemed crazy, Thurn knew he had to do something.
“It seems crazy that someone who has their own radio show and is doing games would want to leave that to go do something else. But I wanted to be around the game. I wanted to do what I loved,” Thurn said.
With his sights set on coaching, Thurn began to test the waters.
“I made a couple of phone calls and talked with my high school coach and Coach (Jamey) Chadwell at North Greenville,” he said. “I got a lot of advice from them. I ended up getting an opportunity to coach at Westside.”
“That transition was unique,” Thurn said. “I was finishing up as the voice of the Lander baseball team. They went to the College World Series that year, so I’m working on that while trying to manage spring practice. I’m trying to get certified as a teacher. My wife and I learned that we were pregnant. It all just kind of hit at once.”
Through the chaos, Thurn started to understand his calling. In 2021, he returned to North Greenville to be an assistant coach, and in 2023, he took over as the offensive line coach at Anderson University.
“I wouldn’t change anything. If I’m not a mass comm major and I don’t go into communications, I don’t know how to carry myself or do a lot of the things that I feel like I do pretty well now,” he said. “God has a funny way of doing things sometimes. He puts opportunities in our lives to allow us to learn and grow, and I’m thankful for what he is in my life and I’m extremely grateful for the journey he has put me on.”