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Familiar Face: Josh Meeker Back on the Bench to Lead Union Girls Basketball Team

RIMERSBURG, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Josh Meeker figured he’d return to coaching high school girls basketball again.

One day.

(Above, Josh Meeker is back as the Union High School girls basketball coach. He won 207 games in 10 seasons in his first stint that ended in 2012/submitted photo)

He just didn’t think that day would come now.

Meeker knows more than most that things can change quickly. Ten years ago, he made the decision to leave coaching varsity basketball behind.

A decade later, he had to make another quick decision to return.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

Now Meeker, who led the Union High School girls basketball team to a 207-65 record, three District 9 titles and one trip to the PIAA Class A semifinals in his 10 seasons, is back on the bench with the Damsels.

Meeker was hired recently to replace Ally Kepple, who resigned after five seasons.

Meeker had been coaching at the junior high level at Union for the past eight years.

“I was pretty comfortable doing junior high,” Meeker said. “I was kind of taken aback a little bit when (athletic director Scott Kindel) approached me about it. But, you know, there’s always the competitive side of me, too. When that opportunity was presented to me again, there were some things about coaching varsity that I enjoyed a lot, too.”

Meeker, though, needed some time to think about it.

He originally left coaching to spend more time with his wife, Tina, and two young children. Since, the family has grown.

He and Tina now have three children. The eldest, Eliana, is entering the seventh grade. Caleb will be a fifth-grader. And the youngest, Avonlea, will be entering the third grade.

“My oldest daughter entering seventh grade this year made the decision a little difficult at first because she’s going into junior high, so I would be her coach if I stayed down there,” Meeker said. “But Scott Kindel, being the sweet talker he is was like, ‘Well, you can look at it this way. You can have two years coaching her in junior high, but you could have four years coaching her in high school.’”

Meeker also got support from Tina.

“I think, like I was, she was surprised that it happened now,” Meeker said. “I think she always felt like I was going to eventually get back into it. She said, ‘It’s your decision. If you want to do varsity, I’m totally behind you. We’ll do it. If you feel more comfortable staying in junior high, you can do that, too.’”

Meeker decided to take the varsity job.

He was never far away from the program. He coached many of the players in junior high who will be on Union’s roster this upcoming season.

He said that will make the transition easier.

Meeker wasted little time getting started.

“Right off the bat I was on the computer trying to find team camps,” he said. “A lot of the ones are still there from when I coached 10 years ago.”

Meeker said he may have to adjust his coaching style.

When he was piling up more than 20 wins per season in his first stint at Union, the Damsels played a full-court press, man-to-man defense.

It was devastating and helped Union become one of the highest scoring Class A teams in the state.

This year, zone defenses dominated the high school basketball landscape. Low-scoring games were the norm.

(Ally Kepple won 53 games in five seasons as the Damsels’ coach, including a 15-9 record this past year/photo by Shelly Atzeni)

Meeker will also have to contend with the graduation losses of Dominika Logue, Keira Croyle and Hailey Kriebel.

Logue, a Clarion University recruit, averaged 13.4 points, six rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.6 steals per game last year and finished her standout career with 1,390 points.

Croyle averaged 12.2 points and Kriebel 6.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

But Union also has two returning starters back in point guard Kennedy Vogle and shooting guard Hailey Theuret. Meeker is also inheriting a sizable roster.

“I watched the girls a lot this year,” Meeker said. “I coached them in junior high. I think I have a good rotation.”

Kepple’s Union teams improved in each of her five seasons. She was 53-61, but led the Damsels to a 27-20 record the last two years, the first back-to-back winning campaigns since Meeker was the coach.

“Coach Kepple has had a tremendous influence on our girls basketball program,” Kindel said, “She has put in a lot of time and dedication to our student athletes and made sure they learned not only how to be good basketball players, but good young ladies as well.”

Union was 15-9 this year and 10-1 in the KSAC.

The group of seniors were among the first players she coached.

Logue said it’s difficult to calculate the impact Kepple made on her as a player and as a person.

“Coach K was a coach who expected her players to give 100%, not make excuses, and show respect for all aspects of the game,” Logue said. “She taught me mental toughness that is invaluable, on and off the court.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

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