"It's very difficult for me to leave Parsippany," Gnapp said. "It's tough. I like the kids, the athletic director, everyone over there. I just feel this is a better opportunity."
The gym at Parsippany has been special to Gnapp for several decades. He played there in high school then went off to Susquehanna University. In 1989, Gnapp, fresh out of college, returned to Parsippany to coach the freshman boys.
He moved on to Morris Catholic, where he was an assistant. Soon after, Gnapp headed back to Parsippany and was a varsity assistant before becoming head coach of the boys for five years. From there, he guided the girls varsity for eight years.
"I grew up at Parsippany," Gnapp said. "The kids are upset about me going and so am I. This is hard. The Mendham job has been offered to me a few times and, this time, it felt right. It's a good situation for myself and my family.
"Mendham has kids who play year-round, a lot of good work ethic and potential. The girls are very committed. Everyone recognizes Mendham. There's a great foundation and a lot of tradition."
Another reason Gnapp wanted to take on the Mendham girls was the opportunity to work with his close friend, Kevin Schmid. Schmid is the coach of the Minutemen boys so Gnapp expects the two will confer often. Gnapp and Schmid, who attended Morris Catholic, have known one another since elementary school.
The Mendham girls went 11-12 last season and should be one of the top 10 teams in Morris County. The Minutemen return guards Liz Malman, a senior, and Aubree Udell, a junior. Under the direction of long-time coach Fred Corona in the 1980s and 1990s, Mendham was a county and state power.
Malman already is impressed with Gnapp, the general manager of Hoop Heaven.
"I think he'll be great," said Malman of Gnapp, who assumed the position vacated by Brad Wetzel. "He's always been around basketball and understands the Xs and Os. He'll get us to be the best we can be."
During summer scrimmages at Hoop Heaven, Gnapp has been taking aside Malman to offer constructive criticism.
"Coach Gnapp tells everyone how they can improve," Malman said. "That's been helpful for me. I like that he's looking out for me and the rest of the team."
Gnapp plans to make the most of the Mendham players' speed with an uptempo offense that will feature fast breaks. He also envisions the Minutemen being aggressive on both sides of the court.
Parsippany will remain close to Gnapp's heart. He feels they're due for and capable of a strong showing this season.
"I'm happy to be at Mendham," he said. "I'm looking forward to it. We should do pretty well."