Clarion Area alum Maci Thornton living a sporting life

Maci Thornton graduated from Messiah College last spring with a 3.88 GPA.

SHIPPENSBURG - The Thornton girls of Clarion, Pennsylvania are an athletic bunch to say the least. All three daughters of Bridget and Jim Thornton have gone on to play collegiate athletics.

Each girl has paved their own unique path, and most recently, middle child Maci began her next chapter post college basketball as a graduate assistant at Shippensburg University in the marketing and communications publications office along with the athletic department in game day management.

Prior to her most recent transition to graduate school, Thornton was an undergrad at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania where she studied public relations while also playing basketball for four years. The former Clarion Bobcat great ranks second all-time in Bobcat history with 1,579 points scored in her four-year high school career. Thornton was named All-State twice in her high school career while also helping Clarion claim two District 9 Class A titles and a clinch a berth in the PIAA state playoffs all four years.

Thornton was named the District 9 Player of the Year, the Tri-County Sunday and Courier Express Player of the Year, and the Clarion County YMCA All-Star Girls' Basketball Game Sportsmanship Award Winner all in her senior year. She was also a UAVSL All-Star in soccer as a junior and senior.

It is safe to say that Maci Thornton is easily one of the most decorated high schoolers in Clarion County history, but her accolades did not stop at the high school level. In college, Thornton spoke about getting off to a tough start with a knee injury she suffered in the preseason. "I tore my meniscus which set me back in my first college season. College basketball is not the same kind of competition at all, and the knee injury did not allow me to get in the right shape or participate in the drills and scrimmages that would help me get acclimated. Despite this, I played most of my freshman season and did not have any major injuries in the rest of my college career."

As a freshman, Thornton played in 25 games and shot 40.9 percent from three-point range. It was a sign of what was to come for her remaining three years. Thornton started every game post her freshman season at Messiah. She was twice named a Second Team All-MAC Commonwealth performer and in her senior season, was named to the First Team All-MAC Commonwealth. Thorton was also named a WBCA Honorable Mention All-American, First Team All-Region, and a First Team Academic All-District Performer in her senior season. She helped lead Messiah to the NCAA Sweet 16 and into a top ten ranked team nationally. Thornton became the 23rd player in program history to score 1,000 points. She scored 1,280 points and played 2,919 minutes in her collegiate basketball career.

Though Thornton is known for her athletic ability, she was also a tremendous student finishing with a 3.88 GPA. She is also extremely dedicated to her faith which is why she ultimately chose Messiah over several other colleges. "When I knew I wanted to play college basketball in early high school, going to a Christian faith school to play was a top priority. Messiah gave me an all-around outstanding opportunity to make my faith stronger while also playing for an elite program. It was bigger than basketball what I was looking for in a school, and without question Messiah gave me that."

Sports truly do consume a large portion of Thornton's life, but she would not have it any other way. In the past, she served as a marketing intern for the Altoona Curve and also worked for Clarion University's athletic department. She is preparing for a career in higher education and hopes that adding a wide variety of experience and a master's degree will be the key in her achieving this next goal. While Thorton's favorite sport was basketball, she also played soccer and softball during her high school career. She was a member of the Clarion Rising Stars which allowed for her to play alongside several other area stars, and many of which have also gone on to play collegiate basketball.

Speaking about some of the people who have been there in her journey, Thornton mentioned all of the great coaches and teammates she has had through the years that have been key to both her and her team's overall success. "I have had great teammates and coaches throughout my entire life. The coaches I had have been incredibly genuine people to me, and that means more than I can express. From the start, I could just sense how kind the coaches were, and I make sure to tell younger high school girls to think long and hard about their college choice if they are going to be playing college basketball. Playing for someone that both all of your and your teammates best interest in mind is something that is important, and I am glad that Messiah was able to provide me that."

In addition to her coaches, Thorton also expressed her appreciation for her parents along with her sisters. Her sisters Matti and Maya have each been there for her to share her success, while she has been there for them to share their success in the sport of volleyball. Matti is a former Clarion University volleyball player, while Maya just completed her sophomore season at Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA. The three girls definitely kept their parents busy over the years, and they deserve great recognition for raising such hardworking and talented athletes and people.

These days, Thornton may be working in game day management, but she hopes to coach and play in some recreational leagues in the future and return to the sport she loves more directly. As for now, she is adding to her skillset and education which will set her up for a bright future in higher education.