Highlands Coach Matt Winkler Announces Resignation

Page 2 of Coach Winkler informed his team and parents about his decision to resign as HHS coach. He went out on a high note as the 9th Region coach of the year a... 39 comments | 7074 Views | Go to page 1 →

  1. #16

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    It marked the end of a great run.

    But while Matthew Winkler did not rule out a possible return to coaching one day, he stepped down from the head coaching position of the Highlands Bluebirds soccer program to devote more time to family. Winkler and his wife Elizabeth have a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter.

    "My boy is going to go into Kindergarten next year," Winkler said. "I want to make sure that I give them the time that they deserve. Being a head coach is a lot of work, a lot of responsibilities. It would be tough to try to balance them both. I always like to do things two feet in, all into the program. If I can't be all in with my family involved, then it's just not right for the kids at Highlands."

    Winkler took over the program in 2010 just two years after the team finished its longest postseason run in school history with a state runner-up finish to Louisville St. Xavier. Highlands continued to enjoy success going 88-55-17 with three district championships, two region crowns and two elite eight finishes in the state tournament in 2010 and 2013.

    "I've known Matthew since I came to Fort Thomas going on 10 years now," said Matt Haskamp, Highlands Director of Athletics. "He's just a very good role model for our boys. He's not a guy that cuts corners. He really cares about what type of men our kids became. That's a hard thing to replace. He inherited a good program, but I think he enhanced upon that. They put a pretty good product out on the field."

    Highlands finished 18-3-2 this past season beating Newport Central Catholic, 1-0 in the 36th District championship. The Bluebirds then beat Beechwood (4-0) in the 9th Region quarterfinals before suffering a tough 1-0 loss to Ryle in the region semifinals. Highlands beat defending state champion and eventual state runner-up Covington Catholic, 2-1 in Fort Thomas on Sept. 13.

    "Those elite eight runs were fantastic, but just overall, working with the players and the parents at Highlands were fantastic," Winkler said. "It was a blessing to have the opportunity to work with all those kids and grind out some awesome. We beat CovCath several times over the seven years along with some other notable wins."

    Highlands graduates 11 seniors from that squad. But the next head coach will see the return of talented players such as Nick Gish and Drew Rom. The Bluebirds Junior Varsity won the 9th Region JV Tournament.

    "My goal when I entered the program was to improve the program and take it to a different level from where it was before," Winkler said. "The program is in a better place than when I started and that's nothing against previous head coaches. Times are changing. You want your program to be the best and eventually win that state championship for these kids and this community."

    JV Head Coach Neal Frink also resigned weeks ago. That leaves Varsity assistant coaches Dave Kraus, Chad Niedert along with Freshman Head Coach Matt Stephens and Goal Keeper coach Eric Fessler on staff pending the hiring of the next head coach. Niedert teaches Pre-Calculus and Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles at Highlands High School.

    Haskamp said he's working with Highlands Principal Brian Robinson and other administrators to plan a course of action in hiring the next head coach. Haskamp also said he hopes to meet with the assistants to discuss the situation.

    "The transition between head coaches is tough," Haskamp said. "I've been involved in it when I was coaching. You have to give the head coach the ability to build their program and staff. In a perfect world, that all works out with the folks you have on (staff). I think we have good people there and hopefully, the next head coach and some of these guys can work together well to get the staff built. If they want to go in a different direction, we'll have to have discussions at that time."

    Niedert played soccer at Xavier University from 2006 to 2009 after graduating from Oswego (Illinois) in 2006. He served as head coach of North Oldham's program in 2013 leading the Mustangs to a 20-5 record with 29th District and 8th Region championships. The Mustangs then beat Central Hardin on penalty kicks before losing to Bowling Green on penalty kicks in the elite eight of the state tournament.

    FORT THOMAS MATTERS: Change in Head Coach
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  2. #17

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    How about Dave Krause? He is a very good coach and has strong community ties. I know the players like him.

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhoozYoDaddy View Post
    How about Dave Krause? He is a very good coach and has strong community ties. I know the players like him.
    Dave is a great guy, and has done a lot of good in the community. He also understands Pub-politics, so that helps.

  4. #19

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    Is there any truth to the rumor that Wessels from CCH is the front runner? Had success at the younger ages as a coach. Not sure, either way.

  5. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimebaseball84 View Post
    Is there any truth to the rumor that Wessels from CCH is the front runner? Had success at the younger ages as a coach. Not sure, either way.
    I haven't heard that rumor, but I'm not exactly being called to discuss potential candidates either.

  6. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by mexitucky View Post
    I haven't heard that rumor, but I'm not exactly being called to discuss potential candidates either.
    This surprises me...

  7. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yellow Card View Post
    This surprises me...
    Ha. Gotta admit, my feelings are hurt a little, lol.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yellow Card View Post
    This surprises me...
    Co-sign.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimebaseball84 View Post
    Is there any truth to the rumor that Wessels from CCH is the front runner? Had success at the younger ages as a coach. Not sure, either way.
    Who is he?

  10. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldbird View Post
    Who is he?
    If it is who I think it is, he is extremely knowledgeable. However, he has a son who is currently a Sophomore at CovCath. I can't imagine him missing games to coach at Highlands.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mexitucky View Post
    If it is who I think it is, he is extremely knowledgeable. However, he has a son who is currently a Sophomore at CovCath. I can't imagine him missing games to coach at Highlands.
    While he and Neal Frink coached together for several years, I have it on very good authority that there is no truth to this "rumor". Since he is currently serving as CCH radio play by play announcer for soccer, I'm sure that's more enjoyable than a coaching gig. Neal would have been a good candidate for this job. I'm sure Highlands will come up with a good coach as this is one of the better positions for soccer coaches in N. Ky.

  12. #27

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    I was under the impression that the Wessels burst into flames if they didn't wear a blue colonel at least once a month. :P

  13. #28

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    I heard from a person who interviewed that he was going to be informed "one way or the other" tomorrow.

  14. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by mexitucky View Post
    I heard from a person who interviewed that he was going to be informed "one way or the other" tomorrow.
    I was told by one of the current coaches there last night it would be by Wednesday.

  15. #30
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    To the surprise of no one, Chad Niedert was named HHS boys soccer coach today.

    Congrats to Chad. I think he will do a great job.

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