MANDEVILLE — The plan was originally for Steve Lopinto to take a year off from coaching.
That lasted less little over a month.
Stepping down from Fontainebleau at the end of the school year, Lopinto was named the head girls basketball coach at Lakeshore High School. He replaces Jennifer Hebert, who was coaching both volleyball and basketball at Lakeshore.
“I guess it was just one of things where everything came together,” Lopinto said. “Lakeshore needed a coach, and I was without a job but still wanted to coach. Once coach Hebert found out that I wasn’t going to be at Fontainebleau anymore, she asked me if I would be interested in taking over the job at Lakeshore.
“I thought about it for a couple of days, because originally I wanted to take a year off and be with my family,” he continued. “We talked about it, and they were all for me taking over the program. Jennifer is now able to take over full-time and devote her responsibilities to the volleyball program. She wanted someone who could devote full-time to the program, and I’m able to come in and fill that role.”
After meeting with Athletic Director Glenn Rivero and Principal Jeanne Wagner, Lopinto was hired.
The fifth coach in the six-year history of the school, Lopinto takes over a team that won only six games a year ago.
“It’s a good question of why should I take this job,” he said. “It was hard for me to leave Fontainebleau. I had built some great relationships with a lot of people at that school and in the administration. I told people that Fontainebleau was like my Kentucky. Taking over at Lakeshore now, I’m excited because I’m taking over a program that hasn’t had much success. I see the potential, and it is there to compete at a high level.
“The problem is that there has been no consistency in the program,” Lopinto said. “When that happens, they can only go only one direction, and that’s up. I am excited to see what we are capable of building and watching it grow. I’m in for the long haul. I still have the energy to do this. I think I can still do it.”
Reiterating that he is truly starting from scratch, Lopinto said summer workouts with his new team are very basic.
“Fundamentals of dribbling, passing and catching,” he said. “We haven’t even got to shooting yet. We are working on basic footwork. As a coach, it is exciting to be able to teach everything. You get to mold them how you want them to do. It’s exciting for sure. I can’t wait to see what this team and program is able to do.
“My team is very determined and receptive to what I’m doing,” he said. “The girls in this program want recognition. They have felt like in years past that nobody even knows that there is a girls basketball team at Lakeshore High School.”