Kevin Campbell named new OPRF baseball head coach

OPRF Physical Education teacher and coach Kevin Campbell was named head coach for the OPRF baseball team by the District 200 school board Jan. 13.

Campbell has knowledge of the program, having worked in it for five years. Nicole Ebsen, OPRF athletic director, said Campbell was chosen because of his “outstanding baseball knowledge,” knowledge of the program, and his already established relationships with many players.

The team is working up to their ultimate goal of a state title through hard work, high energy, and a competitive spirit. “We want to compete each day no matter what we are doing, while having fun with the process,” Campbell says.

Unity between the athletic levels has been an important value for the baseball program. In previous years, Campbell said the program “came together as a coaching staff” under previous head coach Joe Parenti.

“Coach Parenti instilled a good foundation, from top to bottom; our lower levels knew what was expected.” Campbell said.

Parenti says Campbell is “the right guy for the job,” and “the program is in excellent hands.”

Campbell’s hard work throughout his years coaching has proven him ready to be head coach. “He deserves this opportunity,” Parenti says.

OPRF junior and baseball player Calvin Proskey says that since he has known Campbell, he has “brought in a good culture,” creating a team that is like family.

As well as closeness, Campbell also emphasizes the players are a team, rather than a group of individual players. “They’re playing for each other…they’re not just playing for themselves,” Campbell says.

Sophomore Mason Phillips exemplifies teamwork, saying this season, “I just want to give that back to (the seniors) and give it my all for them.”

The road to the state title has already begun, starting with their preseason, despite the first game not being until March 17.

“We’re trying to make each other better and be closer as a team (through the preseason workouts),” Proskey says.

The players “were told in the beginning that they’re going to be pushed mentally and physically (during preseason),” Campbell says. And they’ve accepted the challenge, working hard by putting in effort during workouts to get prepared for the season.

Campbell is a coach who values hard work. “He’ll definitely push us, and he’ll hold us accountable for everything,” Phillips says.

Despite his tough work ethic, Campbell is still seen as approachable. “You can talk with him; he’s very personable,” Phillips says. “He’s definitely a player’s coach.”

As well as being able to connect with the players, Campbell has knowledge of the game that Proskey believes will help bring them to state. “He knows what he’s talking about. He’s a smart guy, very knowledgeable,” he said.

In terms of changes, Campbell says they will “make some minor changes,” such as “updating some … game plans” and “how we teach certain philosophies.” However, Campbell said that no huge changes will be implemented at this time.

Campbell was chosen as someone who will continue the program’s success. Ebsen said that “We (were) not looking for somebody to come in and rebuild or break anything down from what we’ve been doing.”

Campbell will “undoubtedly uphold the traditions and standards set before him but also create his own legacy during his time as the head coach,” Parenti says.

The preseason will provide the team the opportunity to get closer and ready before the season starts. Phillips says Campbell has “done a good job of starting early now so that we don’t have to just ramp it up quickly later.”

The season will be a competitive but exciting one. “We have a tough schedule this year from day one, all the way to our first round of playoffs,” Campbell says. “There is no easy series that we’re going to play.”

Campbell says he is looking forward to an “energetic environment” for their games. “I just hope we can get the same support from the student body and community that we had in 2021,” he said.

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