Popp will continue to serve in his role as Head Coach of the SEABL Men – having agreed to coach the Assist PT Cobras until at least the end of the 2016 Season – and will oversee team and player development for our Under 18, Under 20 and Senior Men’s programs.

Kilsyth Basketball President, Malcolm Allison had nothing but praise for the long and loyal serving coach.

“Coach Popp has been a pillar for the Association; he has always gone above and beyond, providing the programs and environment for our players, coaches and game night volunteers to develop,” Allison said.

“We are indebted to him and excited to see him continue his involvement with Kilsyth Basketball as SEABL Men’s Coach and know he will continue to support the Association in any way he can. We wish him the very best in his retirement.”

Kilsyth Basketball Chairperson, Mike Bainbridge, was equally complementary, pointing to Popp’s recent contributions on the visual upgrades to the home of Kilsyth Basketball.

“Rod has been a loyal and willing contributor to the Association. He was instrumental in the development of the recently launched Hall of Fame, where his efforts exceeded expectations and he was critical to its success,” Bainbridge said.

Arriving at Kilsyth in 2005, Popp brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Association, following coaching roles at both the High School and Collegiate level in the US, with the Cairns Marlins and Taipans in the QBL and NBL, and Internationally with the Qatar National Team. As the Association’s first Director of Coaching, he used that background to implement a significant change, developing the foundation for the ‘Kilsyth Way’, a coaching philosophy that would eventually yield tremendous results.

“It was exciting to come to Kilsyth in this new position,” Popp said. “Personally, I appreciated the support of then General Manager, Dick Thomas, and the Board that was given to me during those early days.”

“Their support allowed me to put in place the foundations and then execute on the plan to implement a homegrown philosophy.”

Popp regards the development of the ‘homegrown’ direction as the Club’s crowning achievement during his tenure, a direction that aims to field Kilsyth’s senior representative teams with local talent by giving junior players a clear pathway to elite level basketball within the Association. With 40 of the Cobras’ 46 senior players coming through Kilsyth Basketball’s Junior Domestic and representative ranks, the homegrown direction has a proven place at the top end.

“This philosophy could not be implemented overnight, but over time we have made it a success,” Popp said. “Kyle Adnam and Jordy O’Shea were playing in Under 14’s when I arrived at Kilsyth; now they are the starting point guards for our SEABL teams.”

Popp first served as the Under 20’s Men’s head coach from 2005-2010 and SEABL D-League/Victorian Youth Championship (VYC) Men’s Coach from 2007 to 2013, before taking over the SEABL Head Coaching duties in 2014. He led the Under 20’s to a VJBL Championship in 2007 – the first in the age group for Kilsyth in 11 years – while his 2013 VYC team was also crowned champions. In 2006, ’07 and ’08, Popp was awarded the Basketball Victoria Coach of the Year award in recognition of his overall contributions and success.

In addition to the implementation of the homegrown direction, Popp considers his 2007 and 2013 championships and last year’s Cinderella run to the South Conference championship game with the SEABL men as three of his most special achievements, making reference to the bond his players shared and their commitment and drive to succeed. But when it came to individual highlights, it was something much simpler:

“No single event came to mind, rather it was the daily enjoyment of working in a great community and serving the sport,” Popp said.

“Kilsyth has been such a wonderful place for Milli (wife) and myself. I have thoroughly enjoyed coming to work every day and appreciate the opportunity the Club has given me to serve in the sport.”

Popp’s impact and contribution to the Kilsyth Basketball community has been far reaching. He has provided countless opportunities for players and coaches to develop locally and internationally, and one of the Kilsyth’s biggest achievements during his tenure has been the placement of 20 players in US Colleges, securing basketball scholarships worth over $1.5 million.

In addition to sending players to the United States to further their careers, Popp initiated and helped manage the front-office intern program, which has seen six US College students work for Kilsyth Basketball over a 3-6 month period over the past eight years.  This program has gained Kilsyth Basketball a reputation as a breeding ground for front office talent, with interns returning to the US to take up positions with organisations such as USA Basketball and the Chicago Bulls.

As his retirement date of September 30 fast approaches, the Wisconsin native is grateful for the decade of support he’s received as he winds down an end to his time as one of the Association’s most influential people.

“My work colleagues, the many players and their families and the many Club volunteers have been very helpful and supportive,” Popp said. 

“We look forward to continuing to serve and support the Association into the future.”

Kilsyth Basketball will shortly commence a process to recruit a new Basketball Operations Manager. Anyone interested in applying can contact General Manager, Mark Griffiths for further information on 03 9728 1033.