FRIENDSWOOD – An already high bar for Friendswood athletics was raised even further in the 2013-14 school year where every team sport made the playoffs.
All but one of Friends-wood’s team sports won at least one playoff contest, and four teams — volleyball, girls soccer, mixed doubles tennis and boys golf — made it all the way to the state championships.
The success resulted in quite possibly the best problem an athletic department can have.
“Our travel budget is pretty low right now,” Friends-wood athletic director Robert Koopmann said.
While Friendswood already has established itself as a solid athletic program, Koopmann said the stars aligned with strong senior classes in many sports this school year.
“Friendswood has always been successful; it comes with the community. But things just kind of lined up for us this year,” Koopmann said.
Koopmann said a high level of interest among students to compete in athletics is one major key to the school’s all-around high levels of performance.
He said roughly 44 percent of students, more than 900 total, participate in some form of athletics.
That level of participation should help ease Friends-wood’s transition into its upcoming great unknown — a move from class 4A to 6A next season that will see the Mustangs teams tangle with some of the state’s largest schools.
A major factor in generating students’ interest in athletics, Koopmann said, is setting up each sport with a coaching staff in which the athletes can feel confident.
“The key for me as an athletic director is to hire great coaches and get out of the way and let them coach great kids,” Koopmann said. “That’s kind of the formula we have around here … I think our kids respect that we’re going put them in the best situation to be successful. In return, our coaches expect our kids to do everything they need to do to be successful.”
Another crucial aspect to building a successful program, Koopmann said, is the backing of the school district’s leadership and the local community.
“You have to have a great administration,” Koopmann said. “They have to want your athletic program to be successful, and ours certainly does,” “The community has to play a big part. Our community is not apathetic.”
In addition to its state qualifying teams, Friendswood had a district champion and area round qualifier in football, a district champion and regional semifinalist in boys basketball, a regional semifinalist in girls basketball, a district champion and area round qualifier in boys soccer, an area round qualifier in softball and a regional semifinalist in baseball.
“If you have success in the fall, it just kind of builds throughout the year,” Koopmann said.
Because of the program’s success, Friends-wood is in the running for the University Interscholastic League’s 2014 Lone Star Cup in class 4A.
Each year in the UIL’s Lone Star Cup, schools are awarded points based on performance in all sports, as well as marching band and academics. In addition to the trophy, the top scorer in each class will receive a $1,000 scholarship.
In the most recent standings, updated May 16, Friendswood was in third place, but Koopmann estimated that once academics and the final sports results of the year are tabulated, Friendswood would be atop the standings by one point.
The UIL Lone Star Cup winner will officially be announced Friday.