The East Jackson varsity baseball team has certainly seen its share of struggles in recent years. And with constant coaching regime changes, it’s not surprising that the Eagles have failed to produce a winning season since East Jackson’s inception.
Following Clark Drennan’s resignation, Robbie Camp will enter next season as the Eagles’ third head coach in three years. But Camp says he’s not another “one-and-done” coach. He says he’s in it for the long haul.
“They have had a rotating door in the past, and I think it’s time for them to have some continuity,” said Camp. “They deserve some. They deserve someone who wants to come in and seriously dedicate their time to helping the program.”
Camp, a Jefferson native, has spent the past three years at Jackson County Comprehensive High School as an assistant varsity baseball coach under Tommy Fountain. In his last two seasons, Camp helped coach the Panthers to back-to-back state playoff berths for the first time in 30 years. Camp also served as the head junior varsity baseball coach and led the Panthers to a 14-2 season this spring.
Because of Camp’s success at JCCHS and his dedication to the program, the East Jackson administration found him to be a natural fit for the position.
“We felt very good about the interview process with him,” said East Jackson athletic director Shawn Lindsey. “With him having roots established here in our county, we feel like he is someone who will stay and develop a program and really put us on the right track with baseball.”
Camp said his obvious goal is to bring continuity to the Eagle baseball program. He hopes that by adding a foundation he can build it from the ground up.
He plans on implementing some of the methodologies he learned at Jackson County, but hopes to add his own “slant” on East Jackson practice procedures.
“Anytime you have been at a successful program, you are obviously going to want to take some of the things that made you successful with you,” Camp said. “I was fortunate that we did have a good staff. Everyone contributed their own part and it all just mixed together well and made for a good formula. I hope to take with me some of the things that I’ve learned about what it takes to build a good program. I think I grew some as a coach at (JCCHS) and I appreciate my time there.”
Camp, now on the opposite side of an in-county rivalry, said he is excited about the opportunity to go head-to-head with his former team and coaching staff multiple times per season.
“I look forward to it,” he said. “It’s good competition. We are in the same school system and the kids and coaches obviously know each other. It’s kind of a deal where you pull for the other team until you play each other.”
Camp noted his familiarity with the other programs in Region 8-AAA, including his alma mater, Jefferson, which will move into the region next season. But Camp says he wants his focus, first and foremost, to be on the structure of his team rather than his opponents.
“(8-AAA) is a very tough region,” he added. “I am familiar with it and I’m familiar with most of the coaches, but we have to focus on getting things right first. I feel, that if we go out there and we work harder than anybody and do what we are suppose to, hopefully in the end, the games will take care of themselves.“
The first steps down that path will begin this summer as Camp implements an off-season plan for the Eagles. He plans on East Jackson players lifting weights in the mornings and practicing in the afternoons with multiple summer league games lined up on the schedule.
“We are going to hit it hard this summer,” he said. “There’s no time for rest. If we want to be successful next spring, we have to get started right now.”