Bill Thieben was born in Suffolk County, New York, on March 28, 1935. He attended Sayville High School from 1948 to 1952, and played for his high school basketball team. After graduation, he enrolled at Hofstra University. In his sophomore, Bill played for his college team, and in his junior year, he was named an All-American by Look Magazine. In his senior year, he was again named an All-American by Look Magazine, and he also won the Haggerty Award, given to the New York City top male collegiate basektball player. Bill was the first student from Hofstra to earn this prestigious award. He graduated in 1956 with degrees in history and political science.
Bill was drafted into the National Basketball Association and played for the Fort Wayne Pistons during the 1956-1957 season, and the Detroit Pistons during the 1957-1958 season. At 6’6″ and 196 pounds, he played the position of forward. He participated in a total of 85 games during his professional basketball career.
After two season of professional basketball, Bill accepted a position as a history teacher at Bay Shore High School in Bay Shore, New York. His imposing stature, his hearty voice, and his unique ability to connect with students made him a truly remarkable educator. After three years in the classroom, Bill was promoted to assistant principal, a position he maintained for ten years. In 1971, Bill became the principal at Rocky Point High School, where he remained for twenty-three years. He retired in 1994. During these years, Bill also taught history and sociology at Suffolk Community College, Long Island University. He was also a professor of secondary education at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.
Bill Thieben’s positive influence on the students of Bay Shore was recognized in July of 2000. Almost three decades after leaving Bay Shore, students who attended the school in the 1960s honored this chalkboard champion by establishing a permanent memorial plaque at the high school in his name. Engraved on the plaque are the words “William B. Thieben – The voice that launched a thousand school days remains forever in our hearts.” A William B. Thieben Scholarship Fund was also created in his honor. In addition, an annual award is given to a senior graduate who needs a helping hand, because the students felt that Bill “was always there to lend a helping hand.”
In 1990, this talented athlete and remarkable educator was inducted into the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. In 2003, he was named a Colonial Athletic Association Basketball Legend, and in 2008, he had his jersey (#93) retired by the University.