Longtime Campbell County head wrestling coach retiring

More by....

Mike Bankemper has been on the staff of the Campbell County Camels wrestling team for 42 years. He is retiring from his role as head coach after 40 years.

It is his third retirement in thirteen years.

Bankemper retired from teaching in 2009 and retired as cross country coach in 2014.

The 63-year old graduated from Campbell County in 1976. After wrestling at both Campbell County and Northern Kentucky University, Bankemper came back to assist the Camels for two years. He then took over the program for the 1982-1983 season. He also served as Campbell County’s director of athletics for nine years.

“It’s the relationship you form with the kids,” Bankemper said when asked what he enjoyed most about coaching. “My social life is mostly a lot of my former wrestlers or former assistant coaches. They’ve been with me for all these years.”

During the 40 seasons as head coach, the Camels won four state championships in 1990, 1991, 2004 and 2012, more than half of the school’s seven state titles in school history. USA Wrestling ranked the 1991 team 24th in the country.

“It was a bit of a challenge at times,” Bankemper said. “That’s just the nature of being a head coach. You have to adjust year-to-year.”

The Camels’ state title count is tied with North Hardin as third-most in Kentucky High School Athletic Association history. Union County has the most with 14 state titles and Woodford County is second with 13.

Campbell County also finished state runner-up five times and placed in the top ten 29 times. The Camels scored 57 points in the state tournament last year tying Walton-Verona for ninth overall.

Related:  Tuesday NKY sports round-up: Cooper soccer beats CovCath for first time ever

The Camels won the Northern Kentucky Athletic Conference 24 times and came in second eight times. Campbell County also won 18 region championships and finished runner-up 15 times.

“Coach Bankemper built Campbell County Wrestling into a state power,” said Steve Hensley, Campbell County director of athletics. “Mike has been a legendary influence on the students, athletes, staff, and community for 40-plus years. His dedication to Campbell County may never be matched. Coach B is Campbell County Athletics and he will always be a shining example of all that is great about coaches and teachers.”

The Camels won a number of individual accomplishments during his tenure: 27 individual state champions, 59 state finalists, 191 state placers, 10 high school All-Americans. Seven wrestlers went on to compete at the NCAA Division I level.

Bankemper said a number of factors played into his decision to retire. One, he has a couple grandkids now. Bankemper and his wife of 39 years, Camy, have three children.

“It’s never the right time. There’s always something you want to hold on to,” Bankemper said. “You want to hold on for this group of kids and hold on for the next group. It’s getting to the point where it was just time.”

Bankemper won a number of awards during his head coaching tenure, including the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2016, the National Wrestling Coaches Association Region 4 Coach of the Year in 2004, the Kentucky Wrestling Coaches Association Coach of the Year honor three times in 1990, 1991 and 1994 and was twice an NHSACA Coach of the Year finalist in 2007 and 2013. He’s been inducted into the Northern Kentucky Sports, Northern Kentucky Directors of Athletics and the Kentucky Wrestling Coaches Association Halls of Fame.

Related:  Northern Kentucky Tri-ED exceeds investment goal

Bankemper noted one thing that helped is, he coached a second generation of families during his tenure. He could not have coached without their support.

“The fathers bought in so the kids bought in,” Bankemper said. “It’s not been that difficult. During any season, I have their kids as much as they do. We leave Saturday morning and sometimes Friday night and we don’t get back until Saturday night and sometimes Sunday mornings. There are parents that sit in the stands 10 to 12 hours a day so we all get to know each other really well as opposed to a coach on the sideline where once the game is over, you walk into the locker room and you never really see a parent.”

Bankemper said he could not have coached as long as he did without the support of his family. His son Cory wrestled on the 2004 state championship team. His two daughters kept scores and did stats for the team.

“All those long weekends gone. Some were going to camp for a week or two weeks,” Bankemper said. “Any coach will tell you if you don’t have the support of family, especially a spouse, you can’t make it.”

Bankemper said he will still be around the program as an assistant. He expects the Camels to be one of the top teams in the 5th Region.

More articles

Latest articles

In Case You Missed It