Jefferson girls basketball coach Tom Mosca, who turned the Dragons program around and guided Jefferson to its first state tournament berth in school history, has resigned to return to college coaching, taking an assistant job at the Air Force Academy. Jefferson athletic director Bob Morgan confirmed the move Thursday.
Mosca will be an assistant under new Falcons coach Andrea Williams, who once was an assistant under Mosca at the University of Tampa. Most recently, Williams was an assistant at USF.
"It all happened very fast," Mosca said. "At the end of the school year, I was planning on following (longtime Jefferson baseball coach) Pop Cuesta and retire from teaching but keep coaching. My wife and I spent that past week up there and were sold."
The Dragons were 28-4 this past season, including a 16-game win streak that ended with a Class 4A state semifinal loss to Pensacola.
In seven years at Jefferson, Mosca took a program that won just six games four years ago and made it one of Hillsborough County’s elite teams. Over the past two seasons, the Dragons were 36-6 with a state tournament appearance and a region final appearance.
This past season, Mosca, who also coached collegiately at UT for 13 seasons, was Western Conference American Division coach of the year.
Mosca returned from a trip to the Air Force Academy on Wednesday and met with Morgan that night to tell him he was taking the job.
"At first you think about it being a military academy and think it might be different," Mosca said. "But it was just like any Division I athletic program, just like Florida or Florida State."
Air Force's roster will include Tampa Catholic guard Colette Eule, an incoming freshman.
“He’s going to be a hard one to replace. That's a lot of experience,” Morgan said. “It’s a nice move for him. It allows him to get back to college coaching. He absolutely single-handedly turned the program around.”
The Dragons lose just one starter – all-county point guard Jade Givens.
“It took him several years to get everything back and there’s a lot back this year,” Morgan said. “I know he feels bad for that reason, but it’s too hard an opportunity to pass up.”
Mosca planned to meet with returning players Thursday evening, imploring them to stay at Jefferson and continue improving the program
Mosca was also a social studies teacher at Jefferson, but Morgan said his successor doesn’t necessarily have to be on faculty.
“Ideally, I’d like to pair it up, but I’m not going to settle,” Morgan said. “I want somebody for the coaching aspect, someone who has experience and can continue to lead team to where Tom was on the doorstep. I want to do whatever’s best for the program.”