High School Sports

Bulldogs coach does it all with a smile

Overwhelming enthusiasm.

That is what powers William Knopf through marathon days as athletics director and coach of Glenforest School’s boys and girls basketball teams.

Knopf, who has been molding the private SCISA school’s small athletics program since it began 14 years ago, said believing in the program’s mission makes the 12-16 hour days more pleasure than work.

“The whole point of starting the athletics program was to instill good morale and self-confidence in these kids,” Knopf said. “I know in coaching I am doing that.”

After leading the Bulldogs’ boys team to an 11-3, 10-6 record last season, Knopf added girls coaching duties to his daily schedule.

Unreluctantly.

“I knew when last year’s coach was leaving at the end of the school year that it would be best for me to coach them again, rather than having someone new coming in right away,” said Knopf said. He has been the Lady Bulldogs’ go-to interim coach since the team’s inception in 1995.

Without flinching, Knopf took over a squad with just six players — three juniors and three eighth graders. A The team that had struggled with the fundamentals and won very few games in the past two seasons.

“It’s usually been harder for other coaches to deal with the losses,” Knopf said. He, on the other hand, sees the positive in this new, old challenge.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity,” he said. “We have very limited distractions and girls who really want to improve.”

Already, he said, the girls have improved. They have gone from averaging 25 fouls per game to averaging seven. They won their season-opener, something Knopf cannot recall ever happening before.

It is a success that makes it even easier to juggle Knopf’s daily duties.

Knopf has the girls team practice first after school, sometimes with the middle school or varsity boys team joining in to make drills more effective.

By 6 p.m., Knopf’s boys team is usually on the court for their own practice.

It is often 8 p.m. before the coach heads home.

Despite his seemingly boundless energy, Knopf admits he is not able to fit in everything he wants to do.

Last year, he got the Bulldogs boys involved in weekly community service activities. They worked at Harvest Hope, visited the Palmetto Richland children’s ward and area nursing homes. With two practices to run, this season Knopf is having trouble transporting the boys to different engagements. He is having an even harder time getting the girls involved in similar activities.

So far, Knopf said, he has just been able to take both groups to Heartland of Lexington, a facility right across the street from the school, to play Bingo with the residents.

Eventually, he will recruit some help, either from the new group of teachers at Glenforest or from some parents. In the meantime, Knopf is not complaining about his load.

“I put a lot of energy into the afterschool sports program and wish that more people had more time, but I can’t expect for everybody to have the same interests that I have,” said the coach, who also works nights as a waiter.

He loves what he does.

And at some point in everyday, he is reminded why.

Knopf said, “I know that I make a difference everyday, because everyday, two or three of those kids look at me and say, ‘you are the greatest, coach,’ or ‘you are the bestest P.E. teacher.’ ”

That overwhelming sentiment makes it hard not to be enthusiastic.

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