Assistant takes over for Terps

Longtime area coach Jan Bennett leaves Tampa Prep after one season, with Nick Rodriguez stepping in to coach the girls.

Published April 14, 2005

TAMPA - In a move that was not unexpected, Tampa Prep girls basketball coach Jan Bennett has stepped down after one season with the Terrapins and more than three decades on the sideline. He will be replaced by Nick Rodriguez, Tampa Prep's top assistant last season.

"I think Nick is a very good young, aggressive coach," said Bennett, who went 11-13 at Tampa Prep.

Bennett, 68, is one of the area's most well-known and successful coaches.

He was a head high school coach 30 years and spent several seasons in college, three as a South Florida assistant. Bennett, who began coaching in the bay area 34 years ago, has a career record of 574-357.

One of his most productive stints was at Seminole Presbyterian, where he led the boys to the Class A final four in 2000. In two seasons he went 26-5 and 33-5.

"It was his plan to coach one year and to train other young coaches, which he did," Tampa Prep athletic director Carol Chalu said. "It went well. He brought along a team that was pretty good and they improved."

Rodriguez is a Tampa Prep graduate who played several sports for the Terrapins. He has been an assistant in boys basketball, girls basketball and baseball.

"He's a great young man," Chalu said. "He knows how to push the kids, how to teach skills and he's real level-headed. He's very well-liked and respected by the administration and faculty, and the girls respond very well to him."