A trio of new head coaches will be on campus when the Titans start school this month.
There will be some new faces around campus at Olympia High when school starts this month, thanks to a trio of hires to the Titans’ coaching staff.
Since school let out for summer, Olympia Athletic Director Lauren Bradley has hired new head coaches for boys basketball, girls basketball and swimming.
The hiring began in late May with the surprise announcement that Rob Gordon, formerly the head basketball coach at Evans High (and Ocoee High before that) would lead the Titans going forward. Gordon replaced Matt Wheeler after Bradley and the school’s athletics department decided to go in a different direction with the boys hoops program.
Gordon’s hiring is a homecoming of sorts. Gordon coached the Trojans for the past two seasons, before which he led Ocoee High’s program to its best season in program history in 2014-15. Before that, though, he was an assistant under former Olympia coach Mark Griseck (now head coach at Windermere High).
“(Gordon) worked under Mark and he learned a lot, and then he went on to Ocoee and Evans and really helped change those programs around,” Bradley said. “He knows our kids and he knows our area.”
The Titans went 11-16 in 2016-17.
Equally as surprising as the news of Gordon’s hiring was the news that Olympia would have a new girls basketball coach, as well. Last season, the Titans girls hoops program enjoyed its first trip to the Final Four in Lakeland under Robert Carmody. Carmody, who is still part of the academic faculty at Olympia, stepped down for personal reasons.
“(Carmody) did a great job, so finding a replacement for him was really difficult,” Bradley said.
Despite that, Bradley said she feels she found the ideal candidate in Thomas Passafaro. Passafaro was previously the head coach at Cornerstone Charter the last two seasons. He led that program to 27 wins and an appearance in the playoffs. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach at the collegiate level and also brings other experience at the high school and AAU levels.
“When I was interviewing him, he had great knowledge of the game,” Bradley said. “He’s had experience at all levels, and he’s a good, personable guy.”
Olympia girls basketball finished last season in the state semifinals and with a final record of 15-7.
The most recent hire was the least surprising, as Stephanie Johnson-Possell, the Titans’ longtime water polo coach who additionally took on the swim team last school year, returned her focus to just water polo.
Bradley said although having Johnson-Possell coach both teams worked out well last year — the girls water polo won a state title, after all — it was never a long-term solution.
Instead, the school announced Kathy Zimmerman as its new head coach for its swimming and diving teams. Zimmerman is a teacher at Windy Ridge School who swam competitively at Winter Park High and the University of Miami. She has coached several sports in Orange County in the past two decades.
“(Zimmerman has) got a great knowledge of the sport and we thought she’d be the best fit,” Bradley said.
Tryouts for the swimming and diving team at Olympia begin Aug. 7 at the YMCA Aquatic Center on International Drive.
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].