TheWabash Athletics Department announced on January 26 that Justin Kopp ’21 has had his interim title removed, installing him as the full-time head golf coach. Kopp, who took over as interim head coach in August 2022, received the promotion after a historic fall golf season.
Kopp has been involved with the Wabash golf program since 2017, playing on both the golf and soccer teams as a Wabash student. After his graduation in 2021, Kopp continued to assist the team, acting as volunteer assistant for Coach Josh Hill while he completed his Orr Fellowship in Indianapolis. But when Hill resigned his position in July 2022, just weeks before the beginning of classes, Director of Athletics and Campus Wellness Matt Tanney ’05 asked Kopp to step in as interim for the 2022/23 season.
And step in he did. During the fall, Kopp led the team to a second-place finish in the Stateline Shootout at Mount St. Joseph University and a first-place finish at the Forest Hills Fall Invitational at Earlham College. Such a strong start couldn’t be ignored.
“Justin [Kopp] stepped in and filled a significant leadership void,” said Tanney. “He did a really nice job over the course of the fall with a quality group of golfers.”
Kopp’s agreement to join the staff could not have come at a better time. After Wabash legend Mac Petty stepped down from the head coaching position after the 2019 season, the golf team has had three coaches in as many years. But Kopp is intent on staying.
“I plan to be here,” said Kopp. “I want to be here when my fresh- men are seniors and when my re- cruits are seniors. I’d love to stay on long term.”
With that purpose in mind, Kopp has already begun developing as a coach. After observing and assisting Hill and playing for the coach before him, Tyler Schmutz, Kopp has been hard at work honing his own skills, by both implementing nuggets of wisdom from his predecessors and bringing his stoic panache to the golf squad.
“I care about this team, both as men and as golf players. As Wabash students, I care about them all more than I think any other coach would.”Justin Kopp ’21, head golf coach
“I really saw different strengths from each of the coaches,” said Kopp. “Coach Hill was a little more analytical, Coach Schmutz was a little more intense and Coach Petty was good about the holistic Wabash individual. I want to continue all the good things that they brought to the program.”
But Kopp believes that he has a perspective that the other coaches lacked: his knowledge of what it takes to be a Wabash man.
“I’m at a big advantage because I was a Wabash student, and I understand the grind,” said Kopp. “So, helping my players get connected to alumni, helping with day-to-day schoolwork and understanding if they need to miss a practice.”
This knowledge allows him to connect with his players and be available to them, both academically and emotionally, in ways that the other coaches could not. That, paired with his care and dedication to the program, stands him in good stead to lead this group of Wabash golfers.
“He’s more than capable to lead the team and the program,” said Tanney. “And we’re really excited for the spring.”
Kopp shared a major part of his coaching philosophy: “No player knows how much you know, until that player knows how much you care.” And Kopp truly does care. “I care about this team, both as men and as golf players. As Wabash students, I care about them all more than I think any other coach would.”
Kopp’s care and dedication are soon to be put into action as the Little Giants set their sights on the upcoming Music City Shootout in Joelton, Tennessee on February 25.
“I think we can win that first tournament,” said Kopp. “The goal is to compete, to go into the last day of each tournament with a chance to win it.”
After the Shootout, the Little Giants look toward their conference schedule in preparation for the NCAC Championships on April 28. Their goal? Knock off the power- house Wittenberg program for the NCAC title.