With just a couple varsity sports left to fill, the Catawba Ridge Copperheads are finalizing the school’s first-ever varsity coaching lineup.
Fort Mill’s Catawba Ridge High School opens in August.
Catawba Ridge still needs head coaches for varsity softball and swimming. Swimming is a fall sport and Catawba Ridge athletic director Rick Lewis said he wants to make sure the right person is hired despite the tight deadline he is under.
“We held out because I don’t have the right person yet,” Lewis said. “I don’t just want to put a body in there. I want to get the right person. I don’t want to settle.”
Lewis said it isn’t easy to hire a coach due to limited teaching spots for coaches to fill. He would need to look elsewhere in the Fort Mill school district or outside the district to find a coach.
Not every coach at Catawba Ridge will be teaching at the school, as some are at other schools within the district, Lewis said.
Some coaches are not district employees, making it hard to find the right person who can fill the position and still have time to do their everyday job, Lewis said.
Some sports were easier to fill as coaches came from Nation Ford and Fort Mill High School, he said. But not every coach needed to open Catawba Ridge was able to come from these sister schools. Lewis said hiring coaches from scratch has been a challenge.
“I knew it would be difficult,” he said. “It is so difficult to match up quality coaches and with teaching positions, you are limited with that.”
Lewis recently hired several coaches for different sports: Lorenzo Popescu will start the boys’ and girls’ tennis programs, Mickey Joslin will coach boys’ and girls’ golf, Handley “Scooter” Weathers will coach wrestling, Lauren Halk will coach girls’ lacrosse, Mike Gambrill will coach boys’ lacrosse and Brandon Schmidt will coach girls’ soccer.
Popescu and Joslin join David Helms coaching multiple varsity sports at Catawba Ridge. Helms, formerly head cross country coach at Fort Mill, will be coaching both cross-country and track.
Originally from Romania, Popescu came to the U.S. in 2015. He is a former professional player with over 30 years of experience as a coach and a player.
Popescu formed the LTA Tennis Academy in Virginia and now lives in Fort Mill. He has served as a tennis coach for the Spanish Federation in Barcelona and was head of tennis for Romania Federation in Bucharest before coming to the U.S.
Popescu said he took the position at Catawba Ridge to continue to share his love for the game and pass it onto others.
“We are lucky to have him,” Lewis said.
Another hire that will be new to the area is wrestling coach “Scooter” Weathers, who got the nickname after his family’s motorcycle shop in LaGrange, Ga.
Weathers is coming from LaGrange High where he has been the wrestling team’s head coach since 2000. He said he decided to look at the job and move to the region to be closer to his sons, who live in the Charlotte area.
“It is an amazing school,” Weathers said about Catawba Ridge. “I am excited to get a job here.”
Weathers said he isn’t a stranger to building a program from scratch. He was part of a rebuilding effort at LaGrange when he took over their program.
“It is going to be fun,” Weathers said. “I am excited about it.”
Weathers and his wife, Susan, are n the process of finding a home in Fort Mill Township.
Catawba Ridge coaches
- Football – Zac Lendyak (from Nation Ford)
- Volleyball – Alicia Lisee (from Fort Mill)
- Swimming – Vacant
- Boys and Girls tennis – Lorenzo Popescu
- Boys and Girls golf – Mickey Joslin
- Track and Cross-country – David Helms (from Fort Mill)
- Boys basketball – Brett Childers (from Fort Mill)
- Girls basketball – Kate Edwards (from Nation Ford)
- Wrestling – Handley “Scooter” Weathers
- Baseball – Stas Swerdzewski (from Nation Ford)
- Softball – Vacant
- Boys lacrosse – Mike Gambrill
- Girls lacrosse – Lauren Halk
- Boys soccer – Phillip McCarter (from Fort Mill)
- Girls soccer – Brandon Schmidt