CONCORD, CA—Renowned girls basketball coach Kelly Sopak has been named the head varsity coach at Carondelet High School. Sopak was the club and high school coach for No. 1 WNBA draft pick Sabrina Ionescu, who played for him on Cal Stars and Miramonte High teams before her legendary career at Oregon.
Carondelet standout Ali Bamberger, who recently transferred to Saint Mary’s College from Washington after her freshman season, also played for Sopak on the top Cal Stars team during her high school years.
Director of Athletics Scott Kennedy said, “Kelly Sopak brings in a healthy resume with an abundance of experiences that we haven’t had before with a good, solid reputation and work ethic. Coach Sopak is not just the best head coach for us right now, he’s the best head coach for us today, tomorrow, this year, and next. Coach Sopak is the future of Carondelet basketball, bringing a skillset and mindset that we need both on and off the court. Kelly Sopak makes us better on Day 1.”
Sopak has established a strong reputation as a successful coach over the past decade and a half in the high school and club basketball worlds. Sopak led programs at Miramonte (2009-20) and Northgate (2005-09) high schools. Miramonte won three consecutive North Coast Section Division III titles with Ionescu from 2014-16 and then won the D-II championship the following year. His final game last winter for Miramonte saw them fall to Pinewood in the Northern California Division I semi-finals.
His achievements expand into the travel basketball circuit as the founder, director and coach of the signature U-17 team of the Cal Stars Basketball Club. Coach Sopak founded the Cal Stars in 2006 and has been serving as the club’s Director and Elite head coach since then.
“Carondelet is the pinnacle of girls basketball here in the Bay Area, if not the state of California. Our goal is to put it on the national map, as well,” Sopak said. “I think Carondelet has the resources and the administrative support and community backing that could put our school on the national map as far as women’s basketball.”
Sopak has a high school coaching record of 398-45 (.898) and garnered sustained postseason success. His postseason accomplishments include one CIF Open Division NorCal championship (2016), six CIF NorCal Finals appearances and four NCS championships.
Ionescu is now one of the most well-regarded athletes in basketball. She set national records (for men or women) while at the University of Oregon and was drafted #1 overall by the New York Liberty in the WNBA. She had been befriended by Kobe Bryant and spoke at his funeral earlier this year. Steph Curry is another big Ionescu fan.
Sopak’s coaching experience is supplemented by club basketball expertise, with more than 1,500 games coached over 14 years at Cal Stars. His teams have made many deep runs in national tournaments, including finishing as National champion three times in 2015 (Nike), 2012 (Adidas) and 2011 (Adidas), National runner-up in 2013 (Nike), final four in 2019 and 2017 (Nike) and elite eight in 2016 (Nike).
More than 250 female student-athletes he has coached have moved on to play at the collegiate level.
Carondelet Principal Kevin Cushing said, “A couple of the goals of our athletics program are to provide a successful experience, not just in terms of wins and losses, but in being able to participate in a journey that allows for growth and development as part of a team, to become a better athlete and player in their specific sport, and to provide opportunity to compete at the collegiate level if that is a goal for our athletes. Kelly Sopak has a proven track record of providing all those goals for his basketball players and we know that our basketball players will be provided a wonderful journey and will be provided an environment where their skills will grow and develop as we compete against the best of the best.”
“I ask the young ladies to work hard, be disciplined, be fundamental. I do that in my coaching,” Sopak said. “Our coaching staff is going to be prepared. We are really going to put the girls in a position to succeed on and off the court and I think they should feel that, see it, and we should live it every day.”
Carondelet basketball has experienced great success in the past two decades. The Cougars won its only State championship in 2004, anchored by Jayne Appel, a charter member of the school’s Hall of Fame.
The Cougars have shown sustained success while winning its NCS division 14 times since 2003 and finished second three times.
Sopak replaces Mike Morris, who coached the Cougars the past two years. Carondelet lost to eventual champions San Ramon Valley in the semi-finals of the NCS Division I playoffs last February.
Sopak said, “It’s an incredible opportunity to get this program to where it’s been in the past. I’m excited to get to work.”
For more about Carondelet’s athletic program, click here.