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Kovac steps down as JT girls coach

After 13 years, including a 49-7 record and a Schuylkill League championship over the past two seasons, Rob Kovac has resigned as head coach of the Jim Thorpe girls basketball team.

“I wanted to continue, but the board of education had other plans,” said Kovac.

Kovac took over a struggling program that had been a combined 18-102 in the five seasons prior to his arrival, and eventually developed it into one of the premiere teams in both the Schuylkill League and District 11. This past season, Thorpe finished 23-5 and was the District 11 Class 4A runnerup for the second straight year.

Kovac, who had a 153-155 overall mark as the Olympians head coach, spoke candidly about his decision to resign.

“I believe this matter is personal with no justifiable reason and has nothing to do with my performance as a basketball coach,” he said. “I have always been a gentleman on and off the court, and the record speaks for itself.”

Kovac, who guided Jim Thorpe to six winning seasons and had three years over 20 wins, praised his players and described them as “not just great basketball players, but great people, too.” He said he would continue to support them in their academic and athletic endeavors. “Our kids are all scholar athletes and good citizens.”

Kovac has not only enjoyed tremendous recent success with the varsity program, but he said he and his staff have helped build a great deal of enthusiasm in the girls basketball program throughout the school district, citing the fact that over 100 girls are currently playing basketball in grades 1 through 6.

Kovac said all of that wasn’t enough for some board members.

“I’m very disappointed,” he said. “I grew up in Jim Thorpe, teach here, and live here. I bleed red, white, and blue.

“I do want to wish whomever the new coach is the best of luck.”

As far as his future, Kovac remarked that he will coach again somewhere, but the position has to be the right one. He’s prepared to spend more time with his family and watch more of his daughter Kaylee’s basketball games at St. Francis University.

“I’m proud of what we’ve done,” he said. “We’ve accomplished so much here, but I will land on my feet and look forward to coaching again.”

Kovac also coached at Panther Valley for six seasons (1997-98 through 2002-03). With the Panthers, he posted a 99-63 record and won a district title in 1999.

Jim Thorpe girls basketball coach Rob Kovac talks to his team during this year's District 11 Class 4A championship game. Kovac is stepping down after 13 years as the Olympians head coach. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS