When it came time to select a new girls basketball coach at Osceola High School, Athletics Director Jim Bird turned to the school’s past to shape its future.
On Friday, Bird name former Osceola great Ra’shawna Sippio to be head up the Kowboys program. “She is an Osceola grad and one of the greatest basketball players in our school’s history,” Bird said. “She understands Osceola’s culture and tradition and I am super excited that she has accepted this job. I have the utmost confidence in her ability to get this program back to where it needs to be.”
Although this is her first head coaching job, Sippio has coaching experience at both the high school and college level with stops at Osceola High (2010-12), two stints at Jones High in Orlando (2012-13, 2014-16), an internship at Chipola (2014) and last year at Poinciana (2021-22).
“All those years of being an assistant and seeing the responsibilities, aggravations and challenges a head coach has to deal with, I was not sure I ever wanted to be one,” Sippio said. “But that changed when this opportunity came up. Osceola High School has always been home to me and this is where I felt I belong. I appreciate Coach Bird trusting me to take this program over.”
It has been rough sledding for the once-proud program. The team hit a low-point last year with a 3-13 record and has had just one winning season in four years. Several talented players have transferred out of the program in the last couple of years.
“Talking to some players that were here last year, they felt like they were placed under too much pressure to perform and I know some players left the program,” Sippio said. “My goal in the first year is to renew interest in playing the game and to assume a teaching role. Whether in practices or game, I want our athletes to become better basketball players every day of the season. But more importantly I want to bring the fun and enjoyment of playing basketball back to them.”
The 2005 OHS graduate was a four-time All-Orange Belt Conference and a two-time Osceola County Player of the Year. She averaged 21.0 points and 12.0 rebounds as a senior and led the Kowboys to a FHSAA Final Four appearance as a junior. She was named to the first unit of the 5-A All-State Team as a sophomore and made various all-state teams as both a junior and senior.
Sippio went on to play collegiately at Chipola State College and University of South Alabama. At Chipola, she was a two-time All-Panhandle Conference; while helping the Indians to back-to-back FCCAA Region 3 championships. In her two seasons, Chipola had a record of 61-13 and finished in the top 10 nationally twice.
She went on to an outstanding career at South Alabama, lettering two seasons. As a junior, she scored 7.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Sippio upped those totals to 10.9 ppg and 8.4 rpg as a senior, leading the team in scoring six times and rebounding 15 times as the Jags recorded a 21-11 season. She received her BS degree from South Alabama in Multi-Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development and also holds an Associate Arts Degree from Chipola.
Sippio is part of a legendary Osceola High athletic family. Her father Robert, who is expected to join her staff as an assistant coach, was a multi-sport star at OHS and two-time FHSAA state champion in the discus. Her older brother Bobby (Robert Jr.) was the starting quarterback on Osceola’s 1998 state champion football team and would go on to briefly play in the NFL before becoming a star in the Arena Football League, where he caught 199 touchdown passes in seven season and led the Chicago Rush to a 2007 ArenaBowl Championship.
“My father was my first call when I got the job,” Sippio said. “He has been a part of OHS athletics for decades in various programs and is well known and respected around the school. He was my first coach and will be a great asset on the bench and during practices.”
A teacher at Discovery Middle School for the last seven years, Sippio expects to transfer to Osceola in time for the next school year. “I definitely want my players to see me and be able to interact with me at any time,” she added.