By Josh Brown
XENIA — Nathan Kopp has spent years teaching children various sports.
But there was always more to it than that for him, too.
“I like to be the guy the turns the lights on and then turns them off,” he said. “Running summer leagues in Troy, I liked to see the workers and teams come together, to see everything run smoothly.”
Kopp, the current varsity head coach of the Troy girls basketball and Newton baseball teams, accepted the position as Athletic Director at Xenia High School and was approved at Monday’s Xenia schoolboard meeting, and he will replace Mark Stoll, who is set to retire at the end of the school year.
It was an opportunity that Kopp simply couldn’t pass up.
“To be honest, it was something I’ve always know I wanted to do,” Kopp said. “I did job shadowing with Jeff Sakal when he was the athletic director at Tipp City. I knew it was something I wanted to get into one day.
“I always tried to conduct my basketball program like a mini-athletic department. We did a lot of things off the court in the community, giving back, running tournaments and summer leagues, we held a leadership conference this past year. It’s always been something that was a goal of mine, to oversee a bunch of programs and help coaches take them to the next level.”
Kopp, who was a 28th-round draft pick by the New York Yankees and pitched in their farm system in 2002, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in health and physical education in 2003 from Wright State University. He was then a varsity assistant girls basketball coach at Troy High School under Lori Penrod before taking his first head coaching job at Milton-Union during the 2006-07 season.
From there, he returned to Troy as the head girls basketball coach and has been at the head of that program since 2007. He was Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division Coach of the Year in 2011 and 2013, as well as District 9 Coach of the Year in 2011 and 2012. He also finished his Master’s degree in educational leadership in 2011 from the University of Dayton, and in 2015 he earned his principal’s license there, as well.
In addition, Kopp has been the head varsity baseball coach at Newton High School for the past three seasons as well as a stint coaching track at Wayne High School.
“I’ve been a head varsity coach for 10 years now, and I’ve coached a variety of sports at a number of different schools,” Kopp said. “I’ve had a good opportunity to see a variety of athletic departments, to see what worked at those places and what didn’t, and I’ve tried to file all of that away in my mind as I get started at Xenia.
“I’ve been able to get guidance and input from guys like Jeff Sakal (former Tippecanoe and Troy and current Troy Christian Athletic Director) and Dave Palmer (current Troy Athletic Director). I look at both of those good athletic directors as valuable resources for me.”
Before moving on, though, Kopp has had his goodbyes to say.
“It was tough, tougher with a couple of the seniors,” Kopp said. “Girls like Bailey Hess and Jenna Kaup, I’ve been coaching them since third-grade camps. The girls always worked hard and gave their best effort.
“It was emotional. But the program is in good hands, and they’re at one of the best facilities in the entire GWOC. The resources are there for the girls to be successful. And I’m telling my boys (the Newton baseball team) today at practice. I expect it to be tough, too.”
Newton’s baseball team is the No. 3 seed in the Division IV sectional tournament. They are scheduled to play the winner between Middletown Christian and Xenia Christian on Wednesday at home.
After that, though, it will be on to the next challenge for Kopp.
“At Xenia, I feel fortunate to be stepping into that job at a great school in one of the greatest, if not the greatest, conferences in the whole state,” Kopp said. “I’ll be able to hit the ground running, see what’s working there, what’s already succeeding and how it all can be improved.”
He’ll also leave a light on for whoever follows him at Troy and Newton.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.