|G. Michael Graham. Campbell County Head Soccer Coach Matt Ewald watches during pregame warm-ups against Highlands a week ago Monday. The 2000 Highlands graduate is in his first year as head coach of the Camels.|
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
Matt Ewald waited his time before becoming a head coach.
The Campbell County job came open this past offseason and Ewald received it. The 2000 Highlands graduate served as an assistant at his alma mater for five seasons between 2008 and 2012. The Bluebirds finished state runner-up in his first season as an assistant.
“It’s what you strive for,” Ewald said. “You start off as an assistant. Everybody says I want to step up and take over a program. It means everything to me to have people that have my back to have the same desire to be successful is amazing. It’s fun.”
Campbell County owns a record of 5-6-2 entering Thursday’s game against Grant County. The Camels had a three-game winning streak before losing 3-1 to Boone County on Saturday.
“We’re extremely excited to have Matt as our coach,” said Steve Hensley, Campbell County Director of Athletics. “He’s done a really nice job with our team this year. Our boys are working extremely hard. So is our coaching staff, We’re seeing those results.”
The Camels started the year with a win over Harrison County. They lost three straight at one point. But it is still progress after not winning a game two years ago. They finished 12-9 last year and lost 4-0 to Scott in the 37th District semifinals last year.
“When you’re trying to take over a program and make it your own, it takes kids a while to buy into what we’re trying to do as coaches,” Ewald said. “It’s been a process this season. We’ve been working on technical abilities and game strategy. We’re trying to get them to have that and then play with the intensity they played with (against Highlands).”
Brian Kremer is an assistant to Ewald. Kremer also graduated from Highlands in 2008.
“I want to fight for them and I want the best for them,” Kremer said. “It’s been a joy to coach out here and be a part of the team.”
The Camels have 12 seniors. One of the captains is Dumaine Michael.
“I like the direction the program is going,” Michael said. “I would like to recognize our new coach Mr. Ewald along with Coach Kremer who also has coached here for several years. It’s a combination of the two with the assets they bring that help make our team better. They instill hard work into us.”
Campbell County sough a big win to really build its confidence. It may have found a week ago Wednesday with a 1-0 blanking of Highlands. The Bluebirds won the 9th Region last year and lost in the elite eight to eventual state champion Lexington Paul Dunbar.
“It’s nice for them to finally get one of those wins where you feel good,” Ewald said. “It’s nice to have this leadership and get them something they haven’t had. It’s a fun team. We’re finally starting to get into it.”
The Camels hope to break the ice and make the 10th Region Tournament this year. Scott and Bishop Brossart have made that difficult in their first two years in the district. But the Camels have been in five games decided by a goal.
“It’s nice to get into a game like this where guys are banging on each other all game,” Ewald said. “We know we’re going to go up against that with Scott. It was nice to have that intensity for 80 minutes.”
Ewald teaches Biology at Campbell County. Fourth-year Camel head football coach Stephen Lickert and newly-named head girls basketball coach Beau Menefee are also Highlands alums.
“Deep down, I’m a nerd so I like Biology,” Ewald said. “I like talking about Biology with kids and see them get excited about a cell or whatever genetics. The nerd in my loves that. That’s what it’s all about.”
As a player at Highlands, Ewald helped the Bluebirds to district championships in 1998 and 1999. He also assisted the 2010 team that won a region and sub-sectional championships.