New Pope in charge

By Clay Corbett | Published Monday, July 8, 2013

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New Surroundings - Kevin Pope recently took over as the head coach of the Paradise Lady Panther basketball program.

New Surroundings – Kevin Pope recently took over as the head coach of the Paradise Lady Panther basketball program.

Paradise hires new girls basketball coach

The Paradise Lady Panthers have finally found their man.

After an extensive search, Kevin Pope has accepted the position of head girls’ basketball coach at Paradise, replacing Eddie Fortenberry who resigned earlier this year.

“I like what I saw,” Pope said about Paradise. “I’ve already got a great working relationship with Coach Broussard. The kids that I’ve met have all been really receptive.

“It’s been comfortable so far and a good fit all the way around.”

He will begin his 31st season in coaching this fall with a 532-335 career record.

Pope spent the previous four seasons at Grandview. Before that, he coached boys basketball for 26 years.

“I was thinking about going into administration,” he said. “The more I thought about it, if I wanted an administration role I still wanted to be involved in athletics. The girls’ side was a chance to do that.

“When I started coaching girls I realized I wasn’t ready to stop coaching. It was time for something different. I had done everything I wanted to do coaching boys.”

It has been a smooth transition for Pope.

“I really enjoy working with girls,” he said. “They are very receptive to coaching. I’ve enjoyed the athletic administration part of the job. I like watching volleyball games and being at the softball games. That is a big part of the job, being out there not only for the sport you’re coaching, but for the kids and coaches of the other sports.”

Before Grandview, he spent three years at Forney. Prior to that he was at San Angelo’s Central High School for 10 years, leading the Bobcats to the playoffs in four of those seasons. He was named a Texas High School Coaches Association all-star coach in 2001 and has picked up numerous other awards along the way.

While at San Angelo he had to tangle with Midland Lee’s Drew Coffman, now Decatur’s head coach.

“Drew Coffman was the best high school player I ever coached against,” Pope said. “He was a good freshman, but he was a real good sophomore, junior and senior. We would show our kids film of Drew – how you should properly come off a screen. He may be the best high school player I’ve ever seen at using a screen to his advantage.”

He also held head coaching positions at Crane and Petersburg.

For the first time in Pope’s career his wife, Jodi, will be alongside him on the sidelines as his assistant coach. She has coached some of his summer league teams in the past, but this will be her first full year as a teacher and coach.

“My wife was an accountant,” he said. “She saw how rewarding coaching and teaching was for me and she has coached my 4A and 5A boys I had in the summer.

“She gave up her career to join the education profession and is looking forward to getting started.”

The duo will have a lot of talent to work with. The Lady Panthers are coming off a trip to the postseason and the majority of the team will return next season.

“Mostly what I know is what I’ve heard,” Pope said. “I saw them play in their playoff game last year. I didn’t come here because they were supposed to be good. I came here because it was a good place for my family, and from the administration on down it was excellent.

“That they have kids who are playing well, and are working hard this summer is just an added bonus.”

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