Lucky 13th year?

Nicole Martin

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Kemper (third right) stands with his family

Football requires behind-the-scenes work, and the coaches are responsible for most of the training and preparation. While coaching presents challenges of its own, this year was even more of a challenge as new coaches had to simultaneously adapt to a new team and to new COVID-19 procedures.

Etowah’s newest football coach, Matt Kemper, can be found on and off the field training football players to strengthen their bodies and prepare for games. Kemper has 28 years of teaching experience. This is his 13th year teaching in Georgia but his first year at Etowah. Although he is excited to be on Eagle Mountain, Kemper is disappointed that the challenges from this year have stopped him from getting to know the school environment.

“I haven’t been able to become involved in the culture of the school because of everything that’s been going on. Normally I would want to be all over the place and know as many kids and teachers and faculty and staff as I possibly can, and now I don’t even recognize people,” Kemper said.

Despite the challenges, Kemper’s involvement in the football and conditioning programs have allowed him to create a small network within the community.

“I really enjoy being in the weight room with students. I was a biology teacher for 10 years. I enjoyed that, but as a football coach, it’s helpful to be in the weight room, and know what’s going on with the guys, and, to a degree, recruit new folks to the sport,” Kemper said.

Kemper originally wanted to become a veterinarian, but later he found a program to become certified to teach, which was a more convenient option for him. He believes that coaching takes up most of his schedule.

“When you’re a football coach, you don’t have a whole lot of hobbies,” Kemper said.

Kemper has faced a variety of challenges this year, such as lack of interaction with the students. While this puts him in an isolated position at a new school, he recognizes Etowah’s positive attributes.

“We’re separated by masks and barriers and distance, and all those things, but I think we’ve got really good kids. They work really hard, and they want to make their teachers and coaches happy. Hopefully we get to experience that fully when things here turn back to normal,” Kemper said.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Etowah’s new staff is adapting to the new COVID-19 guidelines. While Kemper cannot see his students’ faces every day, he sees the way his students are adapting with him.