By HockomockSports.com Staff
King Philip has hired Mark Champagne as its new boys basketball coach. Champagne, who has been the head coach at Ashland High School since 2010, takes over for Matt Coute who stepped down following the conclusion of the 2015-2016 season.
“I’m really excited about it,” Champagne, a Wrentham resident, told HockomockSports.com on Tuesday. “I never wanted to leave Ashland but when this opportunity came up, I had to look into it. You don’t know until you go through the process yourself if its something you want to do. The location, being close to home and my family was obviously a good thing. I’ve been involved in the area’s youth sports for a bunch of years with my son.
“I want people to know I had a positive experience where I was. This was a better opportunity for me, for my family and to be close to my home and in my community.”
Champagne inherits a squad that went 5-15 last season overall and 4-12 in league play. Ashland ventured into the postseason in four the six years with Champagne at the helm, including a 37-23 regular season mark over the past three seasons.
“I never knew if I wanted to coach in the town that I live in, there are different pluses and minuses,” Champagne said. “But I’ve enjoyed a lot of the people I’ve met here. I understand being a parent and dealing with people’s most valued treasures, their kids. I travel around country and advocate for young men and women. It’s not just a game to me. When I coached college, it was all about the game and about me. Now it’s totally different, working with the younger guys…this was just the right fit.”
Previous stops for Champagne include a decade at the helm of the Bridgewater State men’s team, preceded by stints as an assistant at Boston University and UMass Dartmouth (his alma mater, when it was Southeastern Massachusetts University). He was an assistant at Taunton High as well.
“I met some kids when I got to run drills in the interview process and the kids worked really hard,” he said. “I left [KP] really excited about coaching them. The type of kids they were, that’s what I’m excited about. I want them to enjoy experience, have a strong work ethic and to work on their game. Each year is going to be different but each year you should be competitive and enjoy the experience. We’re concerned about going forward with the group of kids there and the youth group up so they aspire to play high school basketball and play in a league that’s challenging.
“I’ve always believed the Hockomock is the best league in the state, in all their sports, not just basketball. It’s going to be a good challenge, a Division 1 school. We have a great opportunity to build the program and try to give these group of kids a sense of pride. It sounds like just a cliché but I mean it.”
Champagne has been involved in the tri-town area, coordinating a flag football program with nearly 300 kids participating. Now he’s excited to get involved at the high school level as well.
“After meeting with athletic director Steve Schairer, Principal Oliveira and football coach Brian Lee, they made me feel very comfortable and I really enjoyed the meeting,” Champagne said. “It was important to me that I could be myself around them and I felt at home there.
“I’m 100% on board and I think my experience will help with the challenges we’ll face.”
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