White Oak Hires Former Pine Tree + University of Florida Standout Nicole McCray Thorn As Next Head Volleyball Coach
White Oak has replaced one volleyball legend with another with the hire of Nicole McCray Thorn as its next volleyball coach.
Thorn, a former Pine Tree and University of Florida star who's spent the last five years as head coach at Panola College, confirmed the decision with ETSN.fm Friday afternoon.
The story was first reported by the Longview News-Journal.
“It’s a huge honor and a blessing all at the same time," said Thorn of her decision to leave Panola for White Oak. "It’s very hard to leave a place like Panola because we’ve developed so many good relationships. And it’s hard to leave my sister (Panola assistant volleyball coach Amber McCray). But at the same time, this is a blessing and something we’re ready for and it’s an exciting new chapter in my life.”
Thorn takes over for Carolee Musick, who took the head coaching vacancy at Pine Tree earlier this month. In Musick's 19 seasons at White Oak, she led the Ladynecks to six state tournaments, the first coming in 1999 before another appearance in 2007 and the four consecutive trips from 2009-12. White Oak won the state in 2010.
“Coach Musick has done a wonderful job with the White Oak program," Thorn said. "She has built a dynasty and a tradition of winning. To fill her shoes is going to be hard, but we’re going to try to continue that winning tradition at White Oak.”
Thorn is a 1998 graduate of Pine Tree where she was an all-state selection all four years and a district Most Valuable Player twice.
At Florida, Thorn enjoyed one of the best careers in school history. She was the 2000 SEC Player of the Year, a four-time all-SEC honoree and a second-team All-American in 2002 when she helped lead the Gators to a Final Four appearance. Thorn was also the recipient of the Ben Hill Griffin Award in 2002, which honors the top female athlete at Florida.
For the last five seasons, Thorn has headed up the Panola College program. She led the Fillies to the NJCAA national tournament in 2009 and was Region XIV Coach of the Year in 2009 and 2010.
If nothing else, Thorn will bring instant credibility to one of the top Class 2A volleyball programs in the state.
“I think it helps, especially from being around here," Thorn said. "But at the same time, I feel comfortable with White Oak. I’ve known and talked to a lot of parents from here and we’ve known each other for a long time. I think it helps that they know they’re getting someone who’s been around a lot of volleyball at a lot of different levels.”