With the Columbia High boys soccer program on firm footing, new coach Drew Crawford doesn't envision a short stay.
"That was one of the questions they asked me in the interview, whether this was going to be a one-year deal," said Crawford, 27. "I don't plan on that at all. I plan to stay, hopefully, at least three or four years."
Crawford, a 2004 graduate of Mascoutah High, replaces Shawn Hewitt, who resigned after five seasons to devote full attention to St. Louis Scott Gallagher Metro. Hewitt led the Eagles to a third-place finish in the Class 1A state tournament in 2010.
"Hopefully, to make another run at state," Crawford said of his objective with the Eagles. "Shawn established a great foundation for the program, so hopefully we can continue to run with what he's laid out for us."
Crawford will remain the BFC Soccer Club director.
"It's a part-time job in Columbia," Crawford said. "I'll just have to manage my time."
Crawford coached beginning players while he was still in high school, but said he never planned to be a coach.
"I just wanted to play back then," Crawford said. "I didn't think too much about it. I figured I would go to college and get a 9 to 5 job somewhere."
Crawford earned a bachelor's degree in management with a minor in accounting at McKendree University, where he also played soccer.
He learned about the opening at Columbia from Juergen Huettner, the girls soccer coach at Althoff High, the owner of BFC Soccer Club and a manager at Family Sportsplex.
"I wasn't really looking for a high-school job or anything like that," Crawford said. "Juergen talked to me, I applied and went through the process. I'm excited about it now with all the backing I've got from the administration. We've got 12 freshmen coming in, if not more, and I think they all play club ball.
"As long as they continue to play club soccer, being a 1A school, we can definitely be a powerhouse."
Crawford, like many coaches, believes having players who compete in club soccer is a must. There are plenty of options with St. Louis Scott Gallagher Metro along with Norco and Avalon in St. Louis.
"I don't know too many pople who can just pick it up when the season starts," Crawford said.
Crawford said Huettner has had a big influence on the type of soccer he hopes Columbia will play.
"I like the possession-based style of play," he said. "I've been working under Juergen for six years and learned his style. He likes to keep the ball and attack. I have my own spin on it and everything, but a lot of my philosophy comes from what I've learned from him."
Columbia will play on a new field this fall that has an artificial surface. The Eagles' first game will be against Mascoutah, which will match Crawford against his former coach, Ron Sergott.
"That's something I'm going to look forward to --going against my alma mater and my former head coach," Crawford said.
"The new turf is going to be a huge deal for the program, a huge deal for the school. I think it helps out with all the bad weather we get. It's definitely a faster-paced game, but most of the kids pick up on it pretty quick."
Crawford married Althoff graduate Julie Schmidt in 2010. The two have no children.
Crawford already has his coaching staff in place for the season. Kyle Riebeling will be his assistant coach and junior-varsity coach. Brad Dietrich, the former boys head coach at Althoff, will be a volunteer coach and work with the goalies. Tony Segobiano will be a volunteer assistant.