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A fresh start for the SHS baseball program as new coaches take over

With the 2024 SHS baseball season approaching, there have been a few changes to the coaching staff.

After 14 years, Varsity Baseball Coach and AP Statistics and Geometry teacher Damien Kopkas, is stepping down from his coaching position.

Damien Kopkas coaching Varsity Baseball. Photo courtesy of Kopkas.
“It was not an easy decision to give it up,” Kopkas said. “My kids are getting to that age where they are getting a little bit older and a little more involved in things. It just felt like the right time to begin to coach my own kids in their sports.”

Conversely, former head varsity coach at Normandy High School and former SHS JV coach Tommy Carosielli has come back to coach the Solon varsity team. The new coach said he is about the upcoming season.

Although Carosielli said that becoming the SHS Varsity coach was always a goal for him, he is a Normandy Alum which is why he left the SHS JV team for Normandy originally.

“Being the varsity head coach here at Solon was my goal the second I put on the navy and white for the first time in 2015,” said Carosielli. “So to come back and have the opportunity to lead this program is an honor. There’s something so special about this community. The way this city appreciates their high school sports lights a fire in me. So I’m extremely excited to get going and honor the legacy of all the Comets that came before me and hopefully add to the story of this historic program.”

SHS senior and Mount Union University baseball commit Solomon Sanders will play his fourth season this year.

“Normally any other person going into their last season would have a lot of nerves with a new coach, but I actually knew Tommy Carosielli, the new varsity coach,

Tommy Carosielli coaching at Normandy. Photo found on Twitter.
from previous years and he’s really good friends with my coach down at Mount Union,” Sanders said.

While Carosielli is taking over Kopkas’s spot, he respects and admires Kopkas as a coach.

“Coach Kopkas did an incredible job in his time here as the head coach, truthfully, he’s a hall of famer in my book,” said Carosielli. “When I heard the news that he was stepping down, I wanted to be the person to take over the outstanding program.”

The JV team also faced some major changes coming into this new season. Former SHS JV coach Donnell Boyer, known to his players as DB, stepped down this past season.

2021 SHS alum Ryan Greene played under Kopkas in his time at SHS and is coming back to the high school to coach the JV team this season.

“I played under [Carosielli] for my JV time at Solon, and he’s probably my favorite coach I played for,” Greene said. “When I heard he got the job, I was thrilled for him and he’s a great guy to be able to coach under because I have prior knowledge from playing under him as a player as well.”

Being a first time coach, Greene is figuring out how to make the upcoming season successful.

“I am just going to keep that positive energy for all the guys and the team. That was the biggest factor I had when I was at Solon. Just being around the guys and having that bond is definitely special with those guys being around you and having that brotherhood type of playing style.”

Sanders will be playing his last season of his high school baseball career with a new varsity coach.

“Initially I wasn’t even expecting anyone to leave,” Sanders said. “I just assumed everyone was going to stay, but I was completely surprised when there was a point that we had no coaches. I’m really excited that we have new coaching this year that kind of gives the entire program a fresh start.”

Greene claims his job as the JV coach is to prepare the players for Varsity.

“Playing JV ball is kind of like the baby-step up to varsity,” Greene said. “So I’m just making sure the guys are ready to get up to that varsity level and obviously go out and try and win every game. If it doesn’t go that way we are gonna be out there and playing hard, and that’s just the goal for every game. I got brought on here to try and help the kids develop, and that’s always the number one goal.”

Despite the changes, players and coaches claim to be confident in this upcoming season.

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