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Fox Chapel grad Papich makes jump into coaching

Tribune-Review
| Wednesday, November 19, 2014 9:00 p.m
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Geoffrey Bolte / www.atlanticexpressions.com
Fox Chapel graduate Jen Papich was named female student-athlete of the year at Gannon University.
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Courtesy Gannon athletics
Fox Chapel graduate Jen Papich was named female student-athlete of the year at Gannon University.
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Courtesy of Gannon athletics
Fox Chapel graduate Jen Papich was named female student-athlete of the year at Gannon University. She is pictured with athletic director Mark Richard.

Jenny Papich graduated from Gannon University last spring and left as one of their all-time greats in basketball.

The 2010 Fox Chapel grad finished among Gannon’s top 10 all-time in scoring, free throws, blocks, steals and rebounds.

Soon after graduation, she began working at the UPMC Eye and Ear Institute as a clinical researcher.

It didn’t take long before basketball beckoned her back.

“I knew that I wanted to give coaching a try,” she said. “Early last summer, Eric Gillis was named head coach of the Plum girls. He was my assistant coach during my junior year at Fox Chapel and he asked me if I’d like to put some time in helping coach the girls during the summer. I was excited about it and had a good experience helping the girls out.

“Recently, Eric asked if I would consider becoming an assistant coach for the girls varsity. I thought that it would be a great opportunity for me. Plum has some very good players returning, and it’s been a great experience.”

There also hasn’t been a problem with her work schedule at UPMC conflicting with the Mustangs’ practice schedule.

“Coach Gillis has been very flexible with that aspect,” she said. “He has the practices scheduled for 5:30 so there will not be a problem there.”

At times, Papich has been able to get out on the court and play.

“I do play occasionally,” she said. “It’s only when they need somebody out there to have two full teams on the court.

“It’s fun. Most of my time has been doing a lot of inside work with the post players. I’ve been impressed with Courtney Zezza.”

Zezza, a 6-foot-4 senior center, is a St. Francis (Pa.) recruit.

Papich has mixed emotions about the two matchups between Plum and Fox Chapel this season.

“It’s going to be strange. I loved my four years there but I’ve been removed from the scene for awhile,” she said. “I don’t know much about the team except that they have some very good guards returning. I do know a few of the players there but it’s mostly new faces to me.”

Meghan Meabon, who coached Papich in her senior year at FC, is also gone as she stepped down from coaching duties last summer.

“I was a little bit surprised that Coach Meabon stepped down,” Papich said. “But she has three young children, and it’s got to be tough trying to devote yourself full time to coaching when you have a growing family.

“When Plum and Fox Chapel play, it will certainly be a different feeling wearing the Mustang purple instead of the Fox Chapel red.”

Marty Stewart is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-782-2123 or mstewart@tribweb.com.

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