Sowder’s familiarity with the program should keep Camels on right path

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When Brent Sowder initially pondered the thought of coaching, he said no twice.

But then Pendleton County boys basketball coach Chad Simms stayed persistent and got Sowder to commit after a third attempt. Sowder got his start in 2006 as a freshman coach and when people say they’ve worked their way up to this point, Sowder is the definition of that.

Seventeen years later, Sowder was recently named the new boys basketball coach at Campbell County, his first varsity head coaching job. Sowder put in his dues, was an understudy of one of the greatest coaches in 10th Region history and will now lead the program on his own after being an assistant on Aric Russell’s staff after the last nine years. Sowder had spent seven years at Pendleton County prior to his start at Campbell County.

“First and foremost an amazing career for Aric at Campbell County and the foundation he set. I’m very appreciative of what he did here and allowing me to be a small part of that. Coaching JV and a lot of things he put in place made me confident to pursue this. I feel like I’m chasing John Wooden now for as much as he put out here,” Sowder said.

Russell helped lay the groundwork for Sowder, whether it be at Campbell County or somewhere else. Sowder has been the JV coach the past few seasons and while many see what happens up front, Sowder helped take on a lot of the behind the scenes stuff coaches deal with on a daily basis.

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Over the past few years, some opportunities came about, but Sowder decided to remain at Campbell County and keep his head coaching dream in waiting.

“Situations write the story a lot of times. I’ve had opportunities elsewhere and this is the place that I’ve grown to love. Love the kids here, the administration, the coaches. When I was considering a move, I was always told, ‘Don’t leave happy to chase happy.’ I’m happy here, passionate about this place and worth it to stay here to me,” Sowder said. “Now I’m excited to lead this basketball program.”

Sowder is a US History teacher for his day job. His relationships built within the school is what helped him stick out as a candidate to the committee that made the decision.

“Brent’s energy and vision and ability to build relationships with kids stood out. He has a great plan and we’re excited to have him onboard,” Camels Athletic Director Michael Florimonte said. “He’s extremely positive within the school. He’ll do anything to help anybody, even if it’s a kid he doesn’t know. Other faculty see it too. He’s a hard worker and does things the right way. People recognize that. Students and players see it too and that’s why we feel we got the right guy.”

Don’t expect much change from the Camels on the court in terms of style of play. They were a top 10 scoring offense in Kentucky this past season and Sowder’s “space and pace” mindset won’t change. He helped guide a successful JV team this past season and the Camels have a promising group of underclassmen led by Jaidan Combs and Garyn Jackson. They’ll also return juniors Connor Weinel and Nathan Smith.

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The losses of Aydan Hamilton, Jake Gross and Keegan Hill leave a lot to be replaced. Hamilton finished his basketball career as the program’s all-time leading scorer while Gross also cleared the 1,000-point marker for his career.

He expects and welcomes the continued high expectations from the program, one that has won 10 straight district championships and four region championships over the last decade.

“I don’t want people to expect otherwise. Coach Russell established that with this program. It’s an honor and duty and privilege to maintain that standard. It will be a challenge to keep that up and I’m looking forward to it,” Sowder said. “The good thing is we have familiarity with the players and the staff, most of these guys I coached at the JV level and they know what to expect from me. Love the team coming back, lose three seniors that did a lot but we have a group ready to take on that challenge and build on what they’ve done.”

Sowder stated he’d like to keep the current coaching staff intact as much as possible and will work on that over the coming weeks. He plans to have individual meetings with players over the next week and get into workouts and open gyms as soon as possible.

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