Last season, Centennial girls basketball coach Rob Slopek won his 100th career game as the Eagles’ head coach.
This upcoming season, Slopek will start a new journey by switching programs to become Centennial’s boys basketball coach.
Slopek, who coached the Eagles’ girls squad for eight seasons between 2005 and 2020, is taking over a team that played for a regional championship last season.
“With his outstanding basketball coaching knowledge and experience, we believe Mr. Slopek will do an excellent job building on the tradition of excellence established in our men’s basketball program,” wrote Centennial athletics and activities manager Jeannie Prevosto in an email. “Mr. Slopek is an exceptional role model who puts students first. … We have no doubt that our men’s basketball program will continue to meet their challenges and be successful with Mr. Slopek and our staff.”
Slopek is taking over for Chris Sanders, who led the Eagles to a 19-6 record in his only season at the helm. Sanders took over for Chad Hollwedel, who won 193 games in his 12 years as the Eagles’ head coach.
“I’m taking a break from basketball to pursue other professional opportunities,” wrote Sanders in a statement.
Slopek said it was a difficult decision to leave the girls program. He wasn’t looking to coach boys basketball, but when the job was open, he decided it would be a good change for himself and the program.
“It was a tough decision,” Slopek said. “I love the girls in our program. I’ve been coaching girls for 15 years, so it wasn’t like I was looking to go to the boys side. It was that I don’t know how much longer I’ll be coaching, and I like change and that’s why I decided to go for it.”
Slopek started coaching the varsity girls at Centennial in 2005 at 24 years old. He coached from 2005-06 to 2009-10, amassing 75 wins and winning a regional championship in his final season. He was then associate head coach for the Stevenson University women’s basketball team for seven years before returning to Centennial in 2017-18.
This past season, Slopek won his 100th career game on Feb. 7 in a 58-43 victory over Atholton. Slopek ends his second tenure with the girls team with a 103-86 record.
“I think the program is in a really good spot,” Slopek said. “The girls are phenomenal, and I was looking forward to coaching them. Those kids will run through a wall for us.”
Looking back, Slopek said his favorite moments coaching the girls team were his first win over Wilde Lake, coaching many great players and the 2010 region championship.
“I’ll always remember the 2010 team that went to the state tournament,” he said. “That was an amazing team.”
Slopek doesn’t expect his coaching style to change moving to the boys game.
He thinks the biggest change will be that most of the girls team’s players were multi-sport athletes, while a higher percentage of the boys are basketball-first players.
“I don’t see much changing,” he said. “I think on the boys side more of those guys play AAU. I think that’s really the only difference.”
He added that if he went to a different school to coach boys, the transition could be challenging. However, at Centennial, Slopek said the close relationship between the girls and boys basketball coaching staffs will give him a leg up.
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“I’m really excited, and our situation at Centennial is so unique. The relationship we had at Centennial between the boys and girls staff was unique,” Slopek said. “We had respect for each other, and we helped each other out. I think the transition will be easier for me because of that.”