Monroe introduces new boys, girls basketball coaches

MONROE — Casey Popplewell recalled the challenge of stepping in as Monroe High School’s boys basketball coach in 2010.

The Hornets weren’t at their best then. In fact, they were at their worst.

“I was advised not to do it more than I was told to do it,” said Popplewell, who had inherited a team that went 1-41 two seasons prior. “But we worked really hard at it.”

Monroe recovered with two winning seasons during Popplewell’s third and fourth years of his first stint as coach.

He’ll get the chance to lead the Hornets back into the positive win column again.

Monroe welcomed Popplewell and new girls basketball coach Justin Clemmons as its new program leaders during a meet and greet session Monday night.

Once approved by the school board at its June meeting, Popplewell will be the Hornets’ boys coach. Clemmons was hired as the girls coach in early May.

“We really believe that Coach Clemmons and Coach Popplewell are outstanding choices for our student-athletes and our basketball programs,” said Monroe Athletic Director Eric Silverman as he addressed school personnel, players and their families inside the school gymnasium. “In both cases, the feedback the student-athletes provided was of tremendous value regarding the two.”

Popplewell was the boys varsity head coach from 2010 through 2015 season and led the Hornets to 32 wins in his last three years at the helm.

“What makes getting started this time around a lot easier is that I know the kids. I’ve been around the kids already,” Popplewell said. “We all know each other. There’s no real feeling-out process. I’m able to jump right in, and that’s been awesome.”

Popplewell has over 20 years of basketball coaching experience as a junior high, freshman, junior varsity and varsity assistant coach at Mason — most recently serving in that role during the 2022-2023 season.

He also coached freshman and junior varsity baseball and varsity football during his career and served as the offensive line coach for Monroe this past fall.

Popplewell has taught English at Monroe High School since 2010 and takes over for Aaron Horne, who led the Hornets the last four seasons.

Monroe went 10-14 in 2022-23 and endured an eight-game losing streak to close out the regular season.

“We’re going to want to play to our strengths,” Popplewell said. “I get to figure those out and what those are still. We’re still learning that part of it.

“I do want to play fast,” Popplewell added. “I think kids enjoy that, and you can get good, open shots. If we’re going to hang our hat on something, it’s going to be defense.”

Clemmons said Monday night that the first priority on the girls side is concentrating on the youth side to grow numbers within the program.

He also mentioned his expectations as a coach through discussing the “four big pillars.”

“We’re going to be disciplined,” Clemmons said. “We’re going to know what to do, why we’re doing it and we’re going to choose the right thing to do. ... We’re going to be relentless in what we do.

“We’re going to strive for excellence, we’re going to strive for success — in the classroom, in the community and on the floor. We’re going to be committed. We’re going to put forth our best effort every day. ... We’re going to be accountable to each other.”

Clemmons takes over for Chad Adolph, who recently left for the Loveland girls basketball coach position. Adolph led Monroe to a 37-53 record in four seasons.

This is the first head coach position for Clemmons, a 2014 Edgewood graduate and current intervention specialist at Monroe.

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