Gibraltar School has a new girls basketball coach, but his face is familiar to those in the district.
Former varsity boys basketball coach Josh Kropuenske is sliding down the hall to coach the girls team next season. For Kropuenske, the job is the culmination of over a decade of work at Gibraltar, where he has coached basketball since 1999. Kropuenske has been involved in nearly every level of play, from 4th grade up to varsity.
From 2001 to 2003, Kropuenske coached the boy’s varsity team. A career change forced him to resign the position, but his love of the game continued to grow. After a year away from the game, he came back to coach middle school boys and girls basketball, and last year he volunteered as the varsity assistant coach to Gibraltar boys basketball coach Myles Dannhausen, Jr.
“I had known for quite a while that I looked forward to an opportunity to be a varsity coach again in the future,” he said. “It seemed like a good opportunity to get back in.”
Kropuenske says his years of coaching experience make this varsity position less intimidating than his first one.
“I think first and foremost when I took the first job I was pretty young,” he says. “Just having the added years of experience, I’ve picked things up from different coaches. I have a better knowledge base for it now than I did nine years ago.”
Kropuenske has been involved in youth basketball clubs over the last several years, and he hopes to continue those programs to help build the varsity team.
“What I’d like to do is to get the high school coaches heavily involved with the youth program,” he says. “I’m not sure that I’m going to be involved in the administration of that on a day-to-day basis, but I will definitely have input as to what I would like from my feeder programs, what skills I’d like to be developed. To build a successful program you have to be involved way back in the beginning, from fifth grade all the way up.”
The president of the Gibraltar Booster Club, Kropuenske says he will stay involved in that organization as well.
“The Booster Club over the last seven years has done a lot of great things at Gibraltar, and that’s something I’m proud of,” he said.
Kropuenske was hired relatively late – he wasn’t hired until June – but he says the players’ enthusiasm has helped overcome their late start.
“There wasn’t an opportunity to meet with the girls before they left for summer vacation,” he says. “Probably where it hurt the most was we weren’t able to get into a team camp. But the girls responded; their open gym participation was good, anywhere from eighth graders up to seniors.”
Kropuenske has high hopes for his team.
“I’m a believer that the Gibraltar girls could be in the regional championship game every year,” Kropuenske says. “I’ve already told my players that, and it’s something I’m going to stress throughout the season. The guys have been in it each of the last two years, and there’s really no reason that we can’t get the girls program to that same level.”