FORMER American footballer and baseball player Bo Jackson once remarked: “Set your goals high and don’t stop until you get there.”
That sentiment could be very well associated with Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell star Edel Thornton who last week returned to the club after spending four years in America and two in Dublin.
The ‘Nellies’ will have fond memories of Edel, (24), running the floor in her youth, that saw her get awarded the U18 and U20 MVP awards in the national cup finals of 2015.
After finishing her Leaving Certificate at St Vincent’s secondary school, Thornton decided she wanted to play college basketball in the States and was duly signed by Quinnipiac University who saw off many interested colleges.
“When I arrived in Quinnipiac it was fairly tough and although I knew how to win and having a lot of belief in my game I was soon reminded about the finer aspects of the sport,” she said.
The American colleges believe that having a high IQ for the game is the way forward.
“It is all about fitting into a role that secures your minutes on court and thankfully I managed to do it over my four years at the college,” added Thornton.
“The one good thing I will look back on is my determination to give my all for the team and I think my coach always respected that side of my game because it wasn’t about my own stats or figures.”
The style of basketball at Quinnipiac resembled her game and role at Brunell where it all started for Edel.
Our coach was a great believer in running the ball, my teammates knew where they needed to be on court and if they weren’t it was my job to tell them.
“I think to sum up my time at Quinnipiac I learned to play the game more efficiently, and more importantly I actually adored the four years I spent there. We ended competing in the Sweet 16, an achievement many of the pundits in the States gave us no hope of doing.”
In the January of her final year, Edel was determined to secure a university where she could complete her Masters and by a stroke of luck, she received a phone call from Dublin.
“Seamus Donnelly from Trinty Meteors called and informed me he was coming over to Yale University to do some work and asked could we meet up as he knew that I was looking to do my Masters in Ireland.”
The rest is history as Seamus informed Edel there was a place and course in Trinity for her and after running it by her parents it was a done deal.
Despite her love for basketball Edel always put her academic side as the number one priority as she qualified in applied behavior management, a discipline of psychology. Arriving in Dublin was always going to be a challenge, but she was pleasantly surprised.
"I can honestly say it was the best two years of my life as they welcomed me with open arms, and I got involved in the underage coaching with Seamus when I had spare time from my studies.
“Seamus always reminded me he wanted me there as a role model more than a coach and for me, it was a home from home, as Meteors are the Brunell of Dublin.”
In her last season, she helped Trinity Meteors get promotion to the Super League but sadly she never got an opportunity to play with them due to the coronavirus.
“We desperately wanted to win the cup but the goal of playing in the Super League was the number one priority and I am a little sad I didn’t get the opportunity to play with this group of players at the top level of Irish basketball as they are a superb team.”
Getting back to Cork was always the goal for Thornton and after helping in a school for autism last summer she was informed that a full-time role had become available.
“I was always going to come home, and although I gained invaluable experience in Dublin getting a job in Cork was the icing on the cake for me.”
No doubt the Lighthouse Centre in Ballincollig, a specialised pre-school that provides individualised education for children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, will benefit from her recruitment.
When you started at a club and grew up among many friends to be able to come back is the real deal for Thornton.
“When I decided to take the job, I got an extra pep in my step and although coming home was always in my mind, I honestly didn’t think it would be this soon.
“I am delighted, and hopefully after losing consecutive cup finals the girls will want to get back on the big stage again.”
All her life, she had her goals and the next one is to try and help Brunell win a league or cup.
People might think it will take a mighty effort but I am hoping that the girls realise to compete at the top you have got to be prepared to go the extra mile.”
When you have the backing of parents like Seán and Christine with brothers Alan, Jason and Frank always at hand to help their only sister.
Edel’s boyfriend is Adrian O’Sullivan the former UCC Demons and Ballincollig star who is presently playing professional basketball in Spain.
“We do not hold each other back as we make our own decisions on the basketball front.”
The relief and delight presently in the Brunell club from players to members is very evident as they will be hoping that Edel Thornton can help them to silverware glory in the coming years.
Welcome home Edel!