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RUSSO STEPS AWAY FROM CRUSADERS BASEBALL

After guiding the Tampa Catholic baseball team deep into the Class 3A playoffs his first two seasons, Pat Russo is out as Crusaders coach.

Albeit sudden, Russo said his departure was "peaceful on both sides." He said the school was not able to offer a full-time faculty position next year and he could not continue coaching on a stipend-only basis.

"I'm a single father of two and I just couldn't do it any more," Russo said. "Tampa Catholic is a great program and I enjoyed my time here. I think we did more in two years than in the last 10."

In a release issued by the school, principal Thomas J. Reidy also stated the school was not able to offer a full-time position.

Russo, who had an overall record of 33-26 at Tampa Catholic, guided the Crusaders to the Class 3A state tournament last season and was one win short of a repeat trip this season.

Russo had expressed his excitement for TC's future in the days leading up to the Crusaders' season-ending 12-1 loss to Fort Myers Bishop Verot on Friday.

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Plant hires Bishop's Slonaker to replace Phillips

After only one season at Bishop McLaughlin, boys basketball coach Michael Slonaker is leaving to take the same job at Plant.

Panthers principal Robert Nelson announced Wednesday that he has hired Slonaker, who has collegiate coaching experience and is the son of a former college coach, to replace Mike Phillips. The program's all-time winningest coach, Phillips was dismissed this year after acknowledging he provided housing information to the mother of a prospective Plant student-athlete.

A 2007 Mercer University graduate, Slonaker, 27, inherited a Bishop McLaughlin program that won once in the 2009-10 season and led it to a 10-12 mark this past winter.

Before that, he spent two seasons as an assistant at Division I-A Campbell University and one year at NAIA Shorter College, which posted the second-highest victory total (19) in program history during his season on the staff.

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JV coach takes reins of Panthers volleyball

Amy Rumore spent the past two seasons grooming the next wave of Plant volleyball at the JV level. Now she will take over one of the state's most successful programs.

Rumore, a 2003 Plant graduate, was named the school's volleyball coach Wednesday, taking over for Leanna Taylor, who took the head coaching job at Queens College this month.

Taylor, who was 185-20 in seven seasons at Plant, leaves after guiding the Panthers to five consecutive state titles. Plant has 10 state volleyball crowns, fourth most in the state, including eight since 2001.

"For me and the girls, I think we just need to stay hungry," Rumore said. "Nothing is a given. I think I offer a little comfort for the girls as far as knowing the kind of coaching they're going to get."

Rumore was a senior setter on a University of Tampa team that won the NCAA Division II national championship in 2006.

She is currently a teacher at Sam Rampello Downtown Partnership School but will join Plant's faculty next school year.

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