“I appreciate the people of Harlan County supporting me. I appreciate all of the kids who have shown interest in playing for me,” Lewis said. “It is a real honor to be put into this position for the future of Harlan County baseball.”
Lewis is no stranger to baseball in the county, starting at catcher on four regional championship teams at Cumberland High School from 1985 to 1988. He was the head coach at Cawood High School from 2004 to 2006, posting a 35-42 record.
Teaching each player the importance of a good work ethic, discipline and fundamentals will be Lewis’ priorities.
“Times are different than when I played. We had support from everyone — teachers, classmates, family and the entire community. We were pushed to be champions,” said Lewis. “I have to teach my players that to be champions, you have to have a good work ethic, be disciplined and know the fundamentals.”
Lewis said fundamentals are the keys to immediate success for the Black Bears and will be the focus of the coaching staff.
Assisting Lewis on the diamond will be Walt Kelly, a former standout baseball player at Cumberland. Kelly is also a former Cawood High School coach, leading the team to a district title and regional runner-up finish in 1998. Combined, Lewis and Kelly won eight regional titles as players. Kelly was the coach of the Redskins last season.
“Walt comes from a great tradition of winning, and he knows the game as well as I do,” Lewis said. “He played on teams that won the consecutive regional titles. He will be a very good coach for us.”
Lewis said his top priority is to have competitive players in the classroom.
“I want my kids to know that they must have a good work ethic in the classroom first,” Lewis said.
Though in a region stacked with talented teams, Lewis said he expects the Bears to challenge for the title.
“I expect us to be competitive from the start. I think that starts with having competition in practice, and we should have that with our numbers,” Lewis said. “Competition breeds success. We’re going to have good players at each position, and that will help us to compete with other teams.”