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Mitchell promotes JV coach

By STEVE LEE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 6, 2002

TRINITY -- Stephanie Baldwin grew up a self-proclaimed gym rat, played basketball at Saint Leo and coached Mitchell's junior varsity girls team.

To Mitchell athletic director Ian Mooney, as well as the coach she replaced, those qualities made Baldwin the ideal candidate to succeed Steve Knobl.

"She's been around the game a long time. Her biggest goal was to be a head coach," said Mooney, who announced Thursday that Baldwin would be the Mustangs' second girls basketball coach.

"In my mind, I thought it was a slam dunk," said Knobl, Mitchell's coach for the school's first two seasons before becoming an assistant principal at Land O'Lakes. "I really thought she was the perfect fit for the job."

Baldwin, 29, actually is the second basketball head coach in her family. Her 57-year-old father, Steve Baldwin, has coached the Madison High (Ohio) boys team for 16 years.

"He's always been my inspiration to coach," said Baldwin, who coached Mitchell's JV team to a 17-6 record last season and was an assistant coach for the varsity team that reached the district finals.

Mooney interviewed two other candidates for the job, but declined to disclose their names. Mooney said he chose Baldwin because of her familiarity with the program and players, knowledge of the game and enthusiasm.

Baldwin steps into a tough situation after the graduation of five starters, but she welcomes the challenge.

"It'll be fun," Baldwin said. "We'll see what the coach is made of."

Baldwin was a three-sport athlete (volleyball, basketball and softball) at Madison, located in northeast Ohio. She played volleyball and basketball at Saint Leo, where she graduated from in 1996.

From 1997-99, Baldwin taught physical education at Hudson Middle School. She coached the girls basketball team to the Pasco County Middle School Athletic Conference championship in 1998.

At Mitchell since its opening in 2000, Baldwin has coached volleyball, basketball and softball at the JV level.

"I'm the JV queen over here," she said jokingly.

Baldwin no longer coaches volleyball, but plans to continue coaching the JV softball team.

Baldwin enjoys each sport she has played and coached, but said the others can't match her passion for basketball.

"Basketball's always been my love -- playing, coaching," she said. "I always knew that's the one I wanted to be a coach of."

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