He would play four years of Division I football for the University of Minnesota, where his tenure as an offensive linemen included his first career start coming in the Gophers upset at then top-ranked Penn State in November of 1999.
He would also go on to help the Gophers win a road game at Ohio State the following season, and play in three bowl games with Minnesota.
Yet, Jake Kuppe insists he was always more gym rat than gridiron monster.
“I was, but in high school, I stopped growing up and started growing out,” he said. “I was tailor made to play football, so I went that route in college, but I’ve forever been passionate about basketball. I just love the game.”
The girls basketball program at Champlin Park High School could become the benefactor of that passion
Kuppe was named the head girls basketball coach at Champlin Park, where he will oversee a program that many consider a sleeping giant.
Backed by a rock solid youth program, and headed by a future Division I college point guard – Alexis Alexander – with one-year of high school eligibility remaining, the Rebels appear have all the tools in place.
Now, after former head coach Doug Swenson announced he wasn’t returning, Champlin Park has a coach in place as well.
“I’m excited for next year already,” said Kuppe. “If I could skip straight to November, I would. We have good size, we have good guards, we have good defenders and we have a really good youth program. I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity.”
It won’t be his first coaching basketball.
Kuppe graduated from Minnetonka High School in 1998 after helping the school’s boys basketball team win a state championship his senior year.
He would go on to play football in college, but soon after graduating, he was coaching ninth-grade basketball at Bloomington Jefferson.
Shortly later, Kuppe got involved on the girls side as a coach with the North Tartan AAU program, where he has coached in the summer months since 2007.
During the winter season, Kuppe has spent the past four years coaching the Hopkins boys sophomore team, where he worked under the guidance of Ken Novak Jr., who has over 500 career victories and has coached the Royals to a dozen state tournaments.
“He could not have been more influential helping me learn as a coach,” said Kuppe. “He’s an amazing person. All the players he’s had over the years, all of the potential ego problems, it never seems to happen. And it is weird to say this, but it is not about the winning. He won his 500th game while I was there, and it might as well have been 100. He just wants to teach kids, and everybody that plays for him gets better.”
The goal for Kuppe, he said, is the same can be said for those that eventually come through the Champlin Park girls program.
“I hope so,” said Kuppe. “For the last couple of years I really wanted my own girls program. I like the girls game. I think it is a little more my style, where I can coach and teach and they are receptive to it. I want them to get better everyday, so that is what we will work towards.”
Contact Nick Clark at [email protected]