Robert E. Thorn '16
After an outstanding athletic career in the local area both in high school and as a four-sport letterman at Grove City College, Robert E. “Bob” Thorn returned to campus in 1920. He held numerous responsible positions, especially as coach, athletic director and dean of men.
The impact of his 37-year career is still recognized today, especially by those who referred to him as “Coach,” “Silver Fox,” or “Mr. Thorn.”
During his distinguished career, he coached the basketball team, founded the soccer program and reinstated men’s tennis as a varsity sport.
As basketball coach, Thorn guided Grove City to 21 straight victories between 1921 and 1922. In 1922, the Crimson cagers qualified for the National Invitation Tournament, finishing with a 16-4 record. His first team, the 1920-21 squad, went 16-1. The 1922-23 team with 19 wins established a program record that stood for 60 years.
On the soccer field, the fiery sideline mentor directed three undefeated teams over his final nine years. The 1948 squad posted a 5-0-3 mark and the 1952 team notched a perfect 6-0-0 record. In 1956, Thorn’s final year as head coach, the booters were again perfect in seven contests.
Thorn also led Grove City’s men’s tennis team to 16 winning seasons, including an 8-0 record in 1933. In all, he spent 23 years as men’s tennis coach, 19 as basketball coach and 17 as soccer coach. Thorn also spearheaded Grove City’s efforts to enter into full NCAA membership in the 1950s.He was in the first class of Alumni Achievement Award recipients, and the football and track facility is named Robert E. Thorn Field. He retired in 1957 and died April 13, 1983. The College re-dedicated Robert E. Thorn Field Sept. 9, 2006.