FORT MYERS, Fla. - It was a night of reminiscing as former players came back to their alma mater to honor their coach and renew old friendships. On December 1, Florida SouthWestern State College (FSW) hosted an alumni event at Suncoast Credit Union Arena at FSW, paying tribute to former Edison College basketball coach Hugh Thimlar.
The 92-year-old Thimlar was on hand to be greeted by one player after another, as well as many fans from the early era of college basketball in southwest Florida.
“What a great way to not only pay tribute to our coach but to also bridge the generations,” said Brad Branson, a former NBA pro who got his start at the college. “Coach was so happy to see many of his old players. I’m so glad we could all come together to celebrate his achievements.”
Coach Thimlar was the first basketball coach at the school when it was first known as Edison Junior College and served the institution from 1966-1992. In that time, he amassed a record of 413 wins against 338 losses. His teams included five All-Americans, 21 players in the Florida Community College All-Star Game, and 90% of his college players continued education after attending the college.
“Our new arena really belongs to these former players,” said Joe Turner, Director of Institutional Promotions and Development. “We would not be where we are today had it not been for what they and Coach Thimlar accomplished back in the Edison days, a time when sports at our institution was the only game in town.”
The reception also kicked off a fundraising effort to endow the Coach Hugh Thimlar Athletic Scholarship to help future generations of Buccaneers achieve their academic goals. The event resulted in $4,200 being raised to launch the campaign.
“We are calling on all players and supporters, then and now, to help unite the generations in order to support the players of tomorrow,” said Dr. Jeff Allbritten, FSW President.
For more information or to contribute to the scholarship, please call (239) 489-9432.