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Then & Now: Andee Schmick

Andee Schmick Thurston and daughter Kyla Jean. (Photo courtesy of Andee Schmick Thurston)
Andee Schmick Thurston and daughter Kyla Jean. (Photo courtesy of Andee Schmick Thurston)

Former SJE state champion driven by different priorities

It might have been the quickest interview for a “Then and Now” subject.

“Then: young and vibrant,” Andee Schmick wrote. “Now: old and tired.”

But even though she is “unemployed” there’s much more to her life.

The former multi-sport star at St. John-Endicott, Class of 1996, now Andee Thurston, has reason to be tired, as she explained in the ensuing telephone conversation, but that also revealed she still has plenty of engery.

“My primary job is being a mother,” she said from her home in Dayton while her 7-month-old daughter slept. “I also do the books at the pharmacy, manage the employees and the front end of the business.

“About two minutes after we moved here, someone caught wind and they asked me to help with the girls team. I thought I was too busy to be a paid coach, but I’ve been volunteering.”

Thurston had an awesome senior year as a St. John-Endicott Eagle. The Eagles won the State B basketball title in Spokane and she was the state champion 100-meter hurdler and triple jumper.

She was booked for a basketball career at Eastern Washington. But her post-graduate Eagles career wasn’t near what her under-graduate Eagles career was. She hung up her high tops after one season.

“I got a taste of the collegiate scene,” she said. “It was a great experience but I was ready to move on. I wanted to put my focus and get out of school. College wasn’t my favorite. I did well but I couldn’t get out fast enough.”

She graduated from Washington State in speech and hearing and went to work in the East Wenatchee school district. She quickly realized it wasn’t her calling and returned to Pullman, working in the police department and as a nanny while attending massage school.

She was working as a massage therapist in Spokane when she reconnected with an old Whitman County acquaintance, Sean Thurston, from rival Garfield-Palouse. Thurston was a three-sport athlete for the Vikings who played baseball for a year at Puget Sound.

In the keeping things as stressful as possible theme, they got married in 2006, a week after he started pharmacy school.

“I married a rival,” she said. “The wedding was as huge, with two Whitman County towns, as you can imagine.

“He was a worldly boy. He ended up in Palouse but they came from Newport. His dad was superintendent.”

He is worldly, but not until he went to work as a fly fishing guide in Alaska and Chile in the summers throughout college at University of Puget Sound.

When Sean graduated from the WSU Pharmacy School in Spokane he went to work at Elk Drug in Dayton. He started work on May 17, 2010, and they bought a house the next day. Buying the business soon followed.

This past June, Kyla Jean was born, named “after one of my grandmothers who probably never missed a sporting event in my whole life,” said Thurston.

She had quite an involved answer about how the lessons from her days as an athlete help her now, but it certainly encompassed her personality.

“Success is determined by the amount of effort put forth,” she said. “You can’t expect to win a state tournament without putting in hours, even years, of physical and mental conditioning.”

It’s the same, she said, running a business in a small town and raising a child.

“There are times when your best effort may fall short,” she said. “Games will be lost, business will be slow, your child may get sick or be uncooperative. You just have to commit to overcoming obstacles and keep trying.

“Applying this mantra to my life is easy due to being abundantly blessed with a supportive and loving family. … When things get tough, I have an incredible support system and my family is there to pick me up – just like my teammates did continually, many moons ago!”

Call her older and still vibrant.