Anye Turner may have finished his career as a Western basketball player last winter, but he cannot seem to stay off the court. This year, he can still be found on the bench amongst the players, but now he goes by “coach.”
Though his time repping number 10 is over, Turner is now an assistant coach for the Vikings. He attends practices, games and is a guiding force for the players.
Turner’s time as a coach has given him a different perspective. He now also has more time to focus on school, getting ready to graduate this spring.
“It’s pretty weird from this side of the fence, but it’s cool to still be involved with the team,” Turner said. “I don’t have as much responsibility and I don’t miss as much class time, which is nice, but I definitely miss it and it makes me want to play more.”
As for his coaching style and approach, Turner says he is rather energetic.
“I yell a lot,” Turner said. “Last game, I lost my voice.”
Turner said being a recent retiree helps with his ability to relate to the players. It gives him credibility, he said, rather than having a stranger come in. The team played with Turner and he feels he can understand their struggles and what it means to be a part of this particular team.
During his time on the team, Turner bonded particularly well with junior guard Jeffrey Parker. The two roomed together three years ago and have remained close friends ever since.
“I’ve always looked to him as an older brother. He took me under his wing. He’s really a great brother,” Parker said.
Though no longer teammates, Parker still has Turner to motivate him on the bench.
“He’s been doing wonderful [as coach]. I like the way he communicates one-on-one,” Parker said. “He will come up to me and say things like, ‘You can do this better or you’re doing great with this,’ that’s the one key thing I really appreciate him doing as coach.”
Parker was able to learn a lot from Turner during his time on the squad. His energy and intensity never went unnoticed, along with his ability to block, Parker said.
Head coach Tony Dominguez said Turner truly impacted the program in a positive way, and he is excited for Turner to see the game from the sidelines now.
“Our players really respect and enjoy [Turner] and feel as though he has great insight into the game and life,” Dominguez said in an email.
As far as Turner’s basketball career goes, Dominguez has only fond memories.
“[Turner] was very emotionally driven as a first- year player and really worked hard to control his temper. His final season was a huge improvement and I felt like he took on many leadership qualities,” Dominguez said.
Turner, a senior biology major, ended his three-year basketball career at Western with 672 points, 530 rebounds and 166 blocked shots, putting him in third place with the all-time leaders in blocks at the university, according to Western Athletics.
Turner has many achievements as a varsity athlete to be proud of, including first-team Great Northwest Athletic Conference all-star and GNAC pre-season all-star in the 2014-15 season. He led the GNAC in rebounds and blocks during the 2013-14 season, according to Western Athletics.
Turner graduated from Black Hills High School in Tumwater, Washington, in 2011 where he led the Wolves basketball team to its first appearance at the state tournament.
From there, Turner went on to play at South Puget Sound Community College before getting picked up by the Vikings his sophomore year. Since then he has noticed some changes.
“From my first season to the last, I had matured quite a bit and grew into more of a leader from when I was a young sophomore,” Turner said.
Mariah Kerrihard, a friend of Turner’s and a student at Whatcom Community College, attended high school with Turner and enjoys watching him on the court.
“He was always one of the best players. A little hot headed sometimes, but always fun to watch,” Kerrihard said.
Following his basketball career to Western, Kerrihard has watched Turner improve to the player he is today.
“I’ve seen a lot of growth in his playing and in him as a teammate. He always had a lot of excitement and he knows how to use it in the right way,” Kerrihard said.
Turner, who is in the beginning stages of his coaching career, has a whole team behind him that is happy to have him on their side.