SCHENECTADY — Carol Lupo is ready for round two.
The longtime Schenectady City School District physical education instructor has been hired to coach the high school's varsity girls' basketball team that she once guided to its most successful season.
The Patriots haven't had a winning season since that 2008-09 campaign that included a Big 10 championship, 19 wins and a spot in the Section II tournament semifinals.
"There are so many challenges in our district," Lupo said. "I am ready to fight the good fight for the girls."
Lupo stepped away from the varsity post after seven seasons in 2012 to tend to her ailing father.
"Things in my life have changed as far as my availability to do it," said Lupo, an Oneida Middle School instructor who will soon be starting her 25th year in the Schenectady school district. "My kids are grown, and family circumstances are not limiting me anymore.
"I bring some experience. I am going to give it a go. I am enthusiastic about it."
Lupo said she has a multiyear, multitiered plan for the basketball team that was under James Thomas' guidance the past two seasons. Step one is keeping players in the fold.
"We have had a hard time retaining girls in recent years," Lupo said. "I want to give them a good experience and have them stick around. The kids I had in the past talk about what a wonderful experience they had. I hope to bring that. I hope to build a more sustainable model."
Lupo and a support staff she has assembled will be monitoring and aiding the players away from the basketball court.
"So many things have changed since I left [the varsity position] and I am trying to be conscious of that. There are so many distractions," Lupo said. "I have brought together a passionate group of people that will help guide them. We will have extra eyes on the kids."
As Lupo did with Schenectady's modified team (seventh and eight grade) the last five seasons and in her previous varsity stint, she will be using basketball as a vehicle to teach such life lessons as responsibility, teamwork and overcoming adversity, and to boost self-esteem.
"The whole thing is about self-improvement," Lupo said. "We are striving to get better all the time."
While Lupo led the modified team to a 21-7 Suburban Council record the last two seasons, she offered only one prediction about her varsity team's on-court fortunes for the upcoming campaign. Thomas led Schenectady to six wins in his stay there.
"I never had a team that didn't improve. That's what happens when you teach them," Lupo said. "We will be a better team in February than we are in November."