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Tara Starks named girls’ basketball coach at Hopkins

By Star Tribune, 08/17/20, 12:15PM CDT


Starks, an AAU coach who mentored Royals superstar Paige Bueckers, also has more than a decade of coaching experience at Minneapolis North.

Between coaching her AAU Team -- the Metro Stars 2022 -- to a four-overtime victory in the championship game of an AAU National Tournament in Shakopee Sunday and waiting anxiously to hear if she would get the head girls’ basketball coaching position at Hopkins, Tara Starks’ stomach was a mess.

After a one-on-one interview with Hopkins activities director Dan Johnson last week, Starks had expected to hear Friday if she landed the job, which came open after highly successful longtime coach Brian Cosgriff announced his resignation in July.

“My stomach was in knots for about the last week,” Starks said. “Did I do everything right? Did I touch all the bases? I had a ton of support from the Hopkins families, but you just never know.”

Johnson sent Starks an e-mail late Sunday night, asking her to come to the school Monday morning. When she arrived, Johnson offered her the job, which she accepted.

It will be her second stint coaching high school girls' basketball. She was the JV coach at Minneapolis North from 1999 through 2009 and spent one year as the Polars' head coach in 2010.

“This is a dream come true,” said Starks, whose daughter, T.T., played at Hopkins and who is credited with much of the development of recently graduated superstar Paige Bueckers, who has moved on to the University of Connecticut.

“I hadn’t applied for any other high school jobs since I left North because I wasn’t sure if it was worth it,” she said. “Something in me said this is where you want to be, this is where you should be, this is what you should be doing.”

Seven current Hopkins players -- including top talents Amaya Battle, Taylor Woodson, Nunu Agara and Alayna Contreras -- played for Starks’ AAU team this summer.

Bueckers was quick to retweet Johnson's posting, saying, “You guys know I love this hire!!! From one legend to another.”

Cosgriff, who announced his retirement in July, coached Hopkins for 21 seasons, leading the school to seven state championships. The team was set to play for the Class 4A girls’ basketball championship in March when the coronavirus pandemic forced the shutdown of Minnesota high school sports.

Cosgriff exited as the 13th winningest girls’ coach (569-67) in state history. Mike Dreier of New London-Spicer tops the list at 962-182.

He left the program with a 62-game winning streak, the second longest in state history. Fosston won 78 consecutive games from December 21, 1999, through March 7, 2002.

Staff writers Jim Paulsen, Ron Haggstrom and Paul Klauda contributed to this report.

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