OSCODA, MI- After eight seasons as the Head Coach of the Oscoda Girls Basketball team, Mark Toppi has been dismissed by the school.
The decision came from the administration just as the Owls summer program was about to begin. After it was determined that only eight girls were planning on participating in the basketball program next winter, the school made the decision to go in a new direction.
Athletic Director Cheri Meier spoke with WBKB and offered praise for Toppi’s time with the program. “This was not a decision we came to lightly. We are extremely grateful for coach Toppi’s hard work.”
After the 2021 season, the administration and Toppi came to a resolution on changes to the programs rigorous summer program. ” After the 2021 season we cut back on our summer program, and we thought we had things going in the right direction,” said Toppi. The former coach also spoke about the guidelines that all players in the program followed. ” We had a strict set of rules. We wanted to teach the girls life lessons. Nobody is going to remember a district championship in five years. We were trying to develop life qualities.”
The decision came just hours before the Owls were set to play their first summer exhibition. Toppi’s first move after being informed of his dismissal was to reach out to his team. ” I wanted to make sure that the girls on the team knew that I was not walking away and that I was not quitting on them. I wanted to be their coach.” The Owls were coming off a season in which they won 15 games and shared the North Star League Title. The Owls defeated Alcona for their second straight district championship before falling to Elk Rapids in the Regionals. The Owls were returning all but two seniors from the district championship squad.
Toppi confirmed that coaches from other schools have already contacted him about openings or advisement roles. Dean Caldwell, who served as the Junior Varsity coach, confirmed that he resigned his position.
Oscoda has begun the search for a new coach. ” We are looking for someone who is willing to put in the time,” said Meier. ” We want someone who is going to build a strong youth development program and put in time year round.”
Whomever takes over the Owls program will inherit one of the top rosters in the area. North Star League first team selections Kingsley Backstrom and Luella Whipkey will return. Along with second team selection Ava Gooch.
For Toppi his time with the program ends after eight seasons, four district championships, five NSL titles and a Class C coach of the year award back in 2018.