High School Sports

Fort Mill turns to former college player to take over girls’ basketball program

Fort Mill has hired Heather Klipa, 31, to be its next head girls’ basketball coach.

Klipa comes to Fort Mill from Smoky Mountain High School in Sylva, N.C. where she coached from 2016 to 2018, compiling a 51-5 record. During that time, she won two conference championships and was twice named conference coach of the year. She was an assistant for three years at Smoky Mountain prior to her two seasons as head coach.

Fort Mill athletic director Dwayne Hartsoe said he was impressed with Klipa when he talked to her.

“Very excited about Coach Klipa taking over the girls basketball program,” he said. “She has had success as a college player and as a high school coach. He ability to relate to our female athletes will be instrumental in building our program into a traditional contender in our region. She will be a role model for our students in the classroom and on the playing court.”

If her name stands out, it is because she is married to 2011 Fort Mill graduate Tyler Klipa. The Klipas currently run a sports performance center in Concord, N.C., where they live. Klipa, who had a child back in December, said they plan on moving to the Fort Mill area before the next school year starts.

Before getting into coaching, Klipa played college basketball at Western Carolina University from 2006 to 2010. She also completed her post-graduate work at Western Carolina as well. Her desire to be closer to family prompted her to apply for the vacant Fort Mill job. The gig came open when former Yellow Jackets coach Brett Childers was hired at Catawba Ridge to start that school’s boys’ basketball program.

“We wanted to get closer to family,” Klipa said. “I really appreciate the community feel here in Fort Mill. I see potential in the program and in building the program.”

Klipa played multiple sports growing up and focused on volleyball and basketball in high school, but it was basketball that really captured her heart.

“Basketball has always been a sport I did year-round,” she said. “I love the game. I have a lot of fun with it. I really believe high school sports are an instrumental tool for girls as they grow up.”

Klipa said she holds herself, her staff and her teams to high standards and that won’t change at Fort Mill.

“I want to make it a culture and an environment that they want to be a part of,” she said.

Klipa will teach High School 101 and possibly physical education at Fort Mill. The Yellow Jackets will return several key players from this past season’s group, including Calli Wells, who led the team in scoring.

Mac Banks: mbanks@comporium.net, @MacBanksFM

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