Kari Duperron returned to her alma mater from the University of Washington before the 2011-12 season.
Cal Poly has gone 71-43 in conference play since, reached an NCAA Tournament along with two WNITs, and won a Big West Tournament championship plus a regular-season conference title.
A former Mustang herself, Duperron went from a walk-on freshman to the team’s leader in minutes played as a junior and senior. In the latter year, she was a team captain and was awarded the conference’s Best Hustle Award.
For five of the seven years since she came back to San Luis Obispo, Mustang players have won the same honor for effort, including most recently in 2018 when junior point guard Dye Stahley was selected for the Best Hustle Award as the Mustangs ranked No. 15 in the country in steals as a team, with 11.0 per game.
Initially brought in to focus on post-player development, Duperron began working with Molly Schlemer at the start of the center’s sophomore year. Schlemer saw her averages jump by 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds as a junior, when she finished 10th in the country in field-goal percentage (54.2) while helping Cal Poly lead the Big West in rebounding.
Duperron also mentored the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in school history, Kristina Santiago. During the forward’s senior year, she ranked fifth in the country in scoring, at 23.4 points per game on 56-percent shooting, along with 9.9 rebounds, on her way to becoming an AP All-American honorable mention.
Both Santiago and Schlemer went on to professional careers overseas.
In 2015, Santiago won her third straight Bulgarian playoffs MVP award as her club, Dunav 8806, completed a three-peat of NBL championships. Schlemer, meanwhile, concluded her rookie season in Germany as the Damen Bundesliga’s only first-year pro to earn EuroBasket honors, and now stars in Turkey.
In addition to being the program’s recruiting coordinator, Duperron also now works closely with the Mustang guards, and from 2016 to 2018 saw Beth Balbierz, Dynn Leaupepe and Lynn Leaupepe earn all-conference accolades.
Dynn Leaupepe ranked No. 20 nationally in scoring during 2017-18, at 20.7 points per game. College Sports Madness’ National Mid-Major Player of the Week on Jan. 8, 2018, Leaupepe graduated No. 3 in school history for career scoring (via 1,636 points) as the Mustangs advanced to the Big West Tournament semifinals at the Honda Center.
Other recent Mustang guards Duperron has coached at Cal Poly include one of 30 Senior CLASS Award candidates across the country in 2015, Ariana Elegado; the NCAA’s assist-to-turnover ratio leader in 2012, Jonae Ervin; and Kristen Alé, who went on to play for the American Samoa National Team.
At Washington, she coached an All-Pac-12 First Team member in Kristi Kingma and an all-conference defensive honorable mention in Charmaine Barlow.
Also while in Seattle, she supervised the program’s academic progress and served as liaison to the Huskies’ Compliance Department.
Before joining the staff at UW, Duperron spent two years as an assistant coach & recruiting coordinator at UNLV. As the Lady Rebels’ camp director, she was heavily involved in the team’s community service and marketing, and conducted several free youth camps, including a free pregame clinic that drew more than 300 girls.
Duperron began her coaching career at UCLA (2003-07), where she started as an intern before being promoted to director of operations and an interim assistant coach.
During the 2007-08 season, Duperron returned to her high school, North Torrance, as the assistant boys varsity coach. Alongside her father, head coach Gary Duperron, the Saxons won their first league title since 1972.
As a player, Duperron finished her career earning two all-conference honorable mentions for the Mustangs. She averaged 10.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.6 steals between her junior and senior years, and set the record for free-throw attempts in a game at the Big West Tournament (19).
Duperron graduated from Cal Poly in Business in 2003, and earned her master’s degree in Sports Management from Long Beach State in 2006.