The 10 on the Team: Charli Turner Thorne
November 18, 2021
Coach Charli Turner Thorne gives a glimpse into essential teamwork both on and off the court with her answers to, The 10 on the Team.
Charli Turner Thorne has been the head women's basketball coach at Arizona State University since 1996. She reached her 500th career win milestone in January 2020 and is the winningest coach in ASU Sun Devil women's basketball history. She was named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2016 and is No. 2 in the Pac-12 in career wins. Turner Thorne also has two gold medals for coaching United States of America Women’s Basketball teams.
What are 5 qualities of highly effective teams?
Of those 5 qualities – is there 1 that is an absolute essential? Why?
The one that is absolutely essential is trust because that is the foundation of every relationship, which is the most important thing.
What facilitates good team communication?
The willingness to be vulnerable and honest.
What is kryptonite to a good team?
Lack of commitment to the greater good. If there is no buy-in, there is no team.
What are ways in which teams can “grow”/develop their team-ness?
Caring about each other and being honest & vulnerable with each other. As a team, you have to have an identity. You have to know who you are – and be committed to it.
You have been with ASU for an incredibly impressive 24 seasons – do you apply the same ‘formula’ at the beginning of each season for bringing your team together and instilling team-ness, or do you let it happen organically?
Really, it’s both. Every year, our value system doesn’t change. We want to instill the same values into our program that define who we are and what we want to do. That being said, every team is different. There is absolutely that piece of the team learning each other and coming together organically.
As head coach you are not only leading the student-athletes, but also working with the rest of the coaching staff. How do you keep your coaching staff on the same page as the season progresses?
At the beginning of every season, we take a few days to review our culture, our philosophies and values and make sure that we are all going to be on page with our players. We make sure we all know who we are and what we want to do. We meet daily to make sure we are on the same page with issues as they arise throughout the season.
You have served as the head coach to the USA Women’s World University Games Team and assistant coach for the Womens USA Basketball’s U21 World Championship Team – both of which won Gold – how do you bring teams together in such a short, condensed time-frame to achieve such amazing outcomes?
It’s a combination of things, but most importantly, you have to get the right players (people). Getting people who are going to be bought in is crucial. The mindset was “we are going to bring home the gold!” There is less time, and you have to work fast. You still have to get them to care about each other. You have to do the best you can in those key areas with the time you have in order to have a peak performing team.
The point guard is often seen as the general on the court, controlling the tempo, calling out plays, and keeping the team balanced and in flow. As a point guard yourself, what are techniques and strategies that you used (and perhaps continue to use) to keep your teams steady and focused when the game starts to slip or momentum turns?
It is incredibly important for me to embody the emotional state that I want our team to have. In situations where there is a momentum shift, it is imperative to be calm. I often use humor, or let the team know to relax, and sometimes light a fire. It is an important leadership skill to be in tune with your team and knowing what they need.
How did that 500th win “feel”? Can you describe it?
Relieved! Mainly because it was a triple overtime game. At that moment, I cared more about winning that game and beating USC on our home court. The bigger answer is that I felt very grateful and reflective. It gave me an opportunity to pause and think about the incredible players and staff I’ve had the opportunity to work with.