January 26 - Nearly three decades after leading W.T. Woodson to back-to-back Group AAA state championships, the school today will induct former longtime coach R. Lee Knupp into its Athletics Hall of Fame.
Knupp, 84, was one of 10 new members who were honored at a ceremony last night and will be formally inducted at a banquet this afternoon at the Fair Oaks Waterford. The coach was an assistant on Dan Lehman’s staff for five seasons before taking over as the Cavaliers’ skipper in 1967, a post he’d hold until 1993.
“Psychology is half of baseball,” Knupp was quoted as saying in the school’s yearbook in 1980. “If I can’t convince the players that they can beat those people out there, then there is no hope. No one wants to see you lose, everyone likes a winning team.”
Over a two-year stretch in 1989-90, he certainly fielded one. In June during those two seasons, W.T. Woodson won back-to-back state championships to become the only Northern Virginia program to win consecutive titles.
The 1989 team, which went 23-1 behind pitcher Mark Bouck and two-way standouts Doug Newstrom and Jason Cook, was voted as the No. 2 team in the magazine’s ranking of the All-Time Top 10 Northern Virginia teams. In 1990, the Cavaliers extended their winning streak to 34 games and Newstrom, who would later pitch at Arizona State and then professionally for eight years, tossed a two-hit shutout and recorded 13 strikeouts in a 2-0 state final win over Lafayette. That team would finish 23-4.
Knupp retired with 388 career victories, which ranks seventh all-time among area coaches. He is one of only five Northern Virginia coaches to win multiple VHSL state titles, joining Mark ‘Pudge’ Gjormand (Madison), Rick Holcomb (Courtland), Ron Tugwell (West Springfield) and Wayne Todd (Broad Run, Loudoun Valley).
His teams won seven district championships and Northern Region titles in 1973 and 1989.
Knupp was a 1957 graduate of Bridgewater College, where he played three sports and was an honorable mention all-conference selection as a defensive end. He also coached football and golf at the school, and worked as a physical education teacher.
Photos of R. Lee Knupp courtesy of W.T. Woodson High School