KINGMAN - When Eugene Kramer threw his name in the hat to become the football coach at Lee Williams High School he had nothing to lose.
In his two years at Kingman Academy, Kramer only lost one game while coaching the Tigers to a state title. Now he has the opportunity to build a program from the ground up at Lee Williams.
"I looked at it (as) a win-win situation. If I didn't get picked, I have a great home at the Academy and if I did get picked, I would weigh the options and when I weighed the options it was go ahead and take the job," Kramer said.
With Lee Williams opening this fall to freshmen only, the high school needed a coach to head the football team. Kramer was hired this week, pending board approval.
The goal is that in three years when the incoming freshmen become juniors, the team will be competing at the varsity level.
"I'm really excited, but it's bittersweet," he said. "I'm going to miss the kids and the parents at the Academy ... but it's a new challenge (and) a new direction. Having a situation with teaching was a big factor. Being in the weight room and teaching the young kids (are) big passions of mine."
Along with his coaching duties, Kramer will work as a teacher in the physical education department.
"I'm excited," said Lee Williams Athletic Director Cory Williams.
Kramer's enthusiasm for kids, his success at the Academy and his strong community ties were part of the reason why Williams settled on Kramer.
Williams said he interviewed other candidates, but chose Kramer because of his vision for the future.
"The position was for a freshman football coach, but I was looking for someone that has that energy (and) that excitement to look to the future and build a program," Williams said.
While Kramer's hiring is a huge gain for Lee Williams, it's also a huge loss for Kingman Academy as they look to fill a huge void.
"He did a great job here," KAHS Athletic Director Shawn Byrne said. "We lost one football game in two years. It's an awesome opportunity. He is going to pretty much build a football program from scratch, and that doesn't come along very often. I'm going to miss him and (we have) some pretty big shoes to fill."
The news of Kramer's departure was still pretty fresh for Byrne on Friday, who was traveling to Phoenix with the KAHS baseball, softball and soccer teams, but the search for a new football coach will begin immediately.
"We are going to attack it," Byrne said. "I'm going to reach out and see if I can find some people, (but) people can apply."
The one added plus for KAHS in its search for a new coach could be the recent decision by the Charter Athletic Association to have the 3A Conference switch from 8-man to 11-man football.
"I think with it being 11-man it is going to make it a little bit easier," Byrne said. "I can image that people have more experience with 11-man than they do with 8-man."
Kramer is capitalizing on a great opportunity, but it is still difficult for him to leave KAHS, a place that brought him back to Kingman.
"From the administration, to the parents to the kids, they have been really good to me and they are very kind and generous people," Kramer said. "I told my football players (Thursday) that I wasn't leaving the Academy for any negative reason of any sorts. It was just with the new opportunities that have risen with this job offer really interested me and pushed me to go in that direction."
For Williams, he sees Kramer as being the perfect fit for Lee Williams. Kramer has not only been successful on the field, but also off the field by shaping kids and exposing them to other things beyond football. Most notable are the trips he had his KAHS football players make to local senior centers.
"That stuff just makes me tingle to think that he could be able to get kids to do that, and have that compassion and respect for the Kingman community," Williams said. "He doesn't want to see the kids just succeed in his football program, but we feel that he is there to build kids that are going to be successful as they (go) through their high school years."