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Preps

Kopp resigns as Wesley Chapel girls basketball coach

Mark Kopp needs more time to pursue a second master's degree, but will coach girls tennis.

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
Published May 9, 2004

WESLEY CHAPEL - Mark Kopp is not the first teacher to feel conflicted. He's just the latest.

Kopp wants to coach girls basketball at Wesley Chapel, but he also wants to be an administrator one day. Those are incompatible goals. Which is why on Tuesday Kopp resigned as the Wildcats' girls basketball coach after two seasons, an 18-28 record and the program's first playoff appearance.

"I just want to see what's best for the girls," Kopp said. "What's best for me and what's best for the girls is this, they need this they need somebody who can truly put the time in."

When Kopp took over the program in 2002, Wildcats basketball was the county's worst team, going winless the first two seasons and 3-86 after three years. But a new coach and a new infusion of talent started to turn it around in 2002.

Kopp went 7-17 his first season and Wesley Chapel won its first district tournament game. This season, with freshman Sthefany Thomas on board and former Pasco coach John Edwards helping on the bench, the Wildcats went a school-best 11-11, pushed defending district champion Ridgewood to overtime in the district final and fell in the program's first playoff game on a last-second shot.

"We made major steps," Kopp said. "There was a time when a lot of teams thought they could just come into our gym and it was an easy win. Last year was my first year here and we changed some things. I expected quite a bit more out of the girls then maybe they had put into it in the past.

"We worked hard and we had some really good players step in through those doors. Then this year our whole season was really building toward the playoffs. We were going into the tournament to make some noise. We shocked some people."

The team is losing three seniors, starters Brenna Lane and Meghan Edwards and reserve Amy Lopez. But a nucleus of Thomas, sophomore center Shandra Brooks and sophomore shooting guard Sami Polston will be back.

"They're poised to take the next step," Kopp said.

Kopp will pursue a second master's degree, in education leadership. Classes will eat up his summer and every Monday and Tuesday night through September. That would keep him from working with the team in the offseason.

"I would have time to take them to minicamps and have open gyms," said Kopp, who expects to stay on as girls tennis coach. "It would just be too much."

"It wasn't something that I wanted to do, but it was something that I had to do," he said. "I feel like the girls deserve somebody who can devote the time necessary. They've really come a long way the last two years and I want to see them continue that way."

[Last modified May 9, 2004, 01:40:27]


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