Editor's Note: This story was updated on Jan. 11 at 3:20 a.m. to correct Eddie James' coaching record the past three seasons.
Eddie James carried a list of high school football coaching jobs that, if they became available, might be worth checking out.
One of those jobs was the head coaching position at Highlands in Fort Thomas.
James, after four years as head coach at Franklin County, has been named the head coach at Highlands. The announcement was posted on social media Saturday by both Fort Thomas Schools and James.
“There were maybe five or six, and they needed to be a perfect fit, not just for me but for my family,” said about the schools on his list.
James led the Flyers to their first state championship game in school history this season, where they lost to Boyle County in overtime.
After going 5-6 his first year as head coach, FCHS went a combined 30-6 the next three seasons.
“The last few days have been really tough,” James said. “I’ve had some really hard conversations trying to make this decision, but I feel confident. I’m excited.”
Those hard conversations included telling his team about his new position.
“That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life,” James said.
James, a 2005 Franklin County graduate, served as an assistant coach at FCHS and Boyle County before being named the Flyers’ head coach in 2017.
“This place is special to me, and I’m going to miss it, but for our players, our school and our community, we did it the right way,” he said.
“My mom always told me if you do something, leave it better than you found it, and in my heart of hearts I think I’ve done that.”
James replaces Brian Weinrich, who stepped down as Highlands’ head coach at the end of the 2020 season. The Bluebirds won their 23rd and last state championship in 2014, Weinrich’s first year at the helm.
Since the 2014 season, Highlands has gone 38-34, including 5-6 this past season.
Matt Bertasso, Highlands’ principal, talked about one of James’ attributes on the district’s online post.
“Eddie James sees the football program as an extension of his own family,” Bertasso said. “He is about championship building, for sure. But he also uses football to teach life lessons that will help mold our students into fine people long after they leave our program. That’s very important to us.”
James and his family will move to Northern Kentucky, but the details and timing are being worked out. His wife, Nikki, teaches in the Franklin County Schools system. They have two children, Ava, 6, and Jax, 3.
“Nikki’s excited, Ava’s excited,” James said. “Jax is Jax. He’s just along for the ride, being a little kid.”
Right now, James is looking forward to his new challenge.
“I’m only 33,” he said. “I’m going to work hard and give it everything I’ve got, and we’ll see how the chips fall.
“For me, this is a once-in-a–lifetime opportunity. They have things people dream about in my profession. I tell our kids to dream big, and I’m dreaming big.”