Pat Rapert has come home.
Rapert, a 1990 Union High School graduate, returned to his alma mater this year to take over as head coach of the basketball Lady ’Cats.
Rapert was a multisport standout with the Wildcats in his time, excelling in basketball and baseball. He played both sports collegiately at East Central College. He graduated from Missouri Valley College in Marshall and received later degrees from Baker University and William Woods University.
“This is my first year as head coach of the UHS Lady ’Cats, 20th year overall as a head coach,” Rapert said. “I graduated from Union in 1990, and I am excited about being back home. I am extremely excited about the season and all the challenges that face us, not only in conference play, but nonconference as well.”
Rapert follows Dusty Weiskopf, who moved to Ft. Zumwalt North to become the girls basketball head coach at that school. Rapert most recently coached boys basketball at Melbourne, Ark., High School.
Rapert also has coaching experience in baseball, soccer and cross country. He also has served as an athletic director and school administrator.
Union went 16-11 last season, graduating three players last season, Taylor Seely, Kaylee Bunch and Emily Webb.
Seely was a Four Rivers Conference first-team selection last season and also made the all-district team.
She additionally made the Missourian All-Area third team.
Four players who started at different times return.
They are juniors Emily Gaebe, Julia Overstreet, Megan Siedhoff and Maddie Helling. Gaebe, Overstreet and Helling are seen as swing players while Siedhoff is a guard.
Gaebe averaged 14.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 3.2 steals per game last year while making the Four Rivers Conference first team and the all-district first team.
Gaebe, a soccer standout who has committed to Saint Louis University, was on the All-Area second team last year.
Union gets reinforced from the Rapert household. Junior Reagan Rapert helped Melbourne win the Arkansas Class 2A state title last winter. She was named state finals MVP with 12 points, six rebounds and five assists in the state championship game. She has a verbal commitment to Arkansas State.
Others expected to help are junior forward Jessi Clark, junior guard Emma Rinne and sophomore guard Sophie Eagan.
Rapert said he wants his team to be able to compete in the conference and district and to be competitive in all of the tournaments.
Rapert is being assisted by Nick Kelley and Nicole Blackburn.
Rapert knows the Four Rivers Conference will be tough again this year.
“With it being my first year, I hate to speculate,” Rapert said. “From what I am told, Sullivan, St. Clair, Hermann and St. James are top half. We do return four starters, so hopefully we can be competitive.”
As far as the district goes, Union was assigned to Class 4 District 9 along with Owensville, Rolla, Salem, St. Clair and Sullivan.
Union plays Thursday in the Incarnate Word Academy jamboree. Union opens the regular season Dec. 2 against the St. Louis Patriettes homeschool team at 6 p.m.
The team can be followed on Twitter @LadycatsUnion.