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Mike Campbell was the center of attention Jan. 17 when Englewood High School officials held a meeting and introduced him as the new head football coach.
Campbell, who was at the helm of the Arapahoe High School football program for 15 years, told a crowd of more than 50 students and parents who attended the meeting that he applied to lead the Pirates' program because he wanted to coach a team in a community like Englewood.
Nate Smith, athletic director, introduced Campbell.
“The search for a new head football coach stirred a lot of excitement in the community and a lot of interest in the coaching community,” he said. “We had 40 applications for the position from head coaches, assistant coaches. It included coaches from most school classifications.”
He said a committee screened each application and the favorite choice of committee members was Campbell, and fortunately he accepted the position. Campbell fills the position formerly held by Jay Graves, who was head coach for the Pirates for nine years. He also served as an assistant coach for several years under Randy Penn.
Campbell told the audience that football has always been a big part of his life.
“I played football at Arapahoe, then played at the University of Idaho and then spent a couple seasons in pro ball with the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League, the coach said. “Then, I accepted the opportunity to teach and coach at my alma mater. I taught history and spent 21 years on the Warriors football staff, 15 as head coach.”
He said last year he was assessing his career goals and had always wanted to coach in a community like Englewood, where everyone follows the high school team.
“I feel honored they selected me and I am excited I am to now be the Pirates coach," he said. "I have coached a lot of football, so I know what it takes to win and I will work with our athletes to build a winning program here at Englewood."
Campbell addressed the players in the audience and said football season will begin Jan. 29.
“We need to get physically stronger, so I expect all the players to be in the weight room from 3:45 to 5 p.m. each Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday,” he said. “This summer will be a busy time as well. We will practice about three hours, three mornings a week.”
He also said he has had questions about his coaching style.
“Defensively, I want the Pirates to play aggressive defense to get in there and disrupt the other team's plays,” Campbell said. “Our offensive game plans will depend on the talent we have on the team. I prefer a balanced attack, mixing up the passing and running plays. I also feel special teams play is very important. I want our kids to get fired up about football. Also I want our guys to look at the Pirate on the 50-yard line every time we take the field and vow that no one will come into our stadium and beat us.”
The coach said the school has outstanding facilities for its athletes.
“Englewood's facilities are second to none,” he said. “I was impressed with the quality of the weight room and the gym. They are top-quality facilities. Englewood also is special because the Pirates play their home games in their home stadium. Few schools except private schools have their own stadium."
When asked about academics, Campbell said the athletes are students first and he wants all players to work hard in the classroom.
“We will start practice about 4:15 p.m. because I will be teaching at Arapahoe during the season. There is a classroom right below the weight room in the gym, so I will urge all our players to go there after school to study and work on their homework,” Campbell said. “I am a teacher and I believe in education so I expect my students to work as hard in the classroom as they do on the field so they complete their work, hand it in on time and earn good grades.”
A parent asked how he would gain the trust of his players.
“I believe the key to gaining the trust of the players is to let each athlete know I care about them and respect him,” Campbell said. “When a player does something right, you give him a pat on the back. When he makes a mistake, you let him know it, tell him how to do it right, give him a hug and send him back on the field to it properly.”
Pirate sophomore Gabe Torres was one of the athletes at the meeting planning to play football in the fall.
“I like what the coach had to say,” he said. “I learned a lot about him and his coaching plans. I know that I am excited to begin working with him and getting ready to play football in September.”
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