Craig Widener

Bowling Green boys’ soccer coach Craig Widener yells to his players during a 2013 game. Widener was named the team’s new head coach Tuesday, five years after stepping down from the job.

Craig Widener was content with his decision to step down as the Bowling Green boys’ soccer coach in 2015. Five years later, the chance to return and his competitive nature made it too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Widener was named the boys’ soccer coach on Tuesday, a second tenure for the man who guided the program to state titles in 2006 and 2014. He replaces Scott Gural, who stepped down last month.

“I kind of made peace with the fact that I was pretty much done coaching,” Widener said. “I had almost gotten to the point where I could sit down and watch a game and not just try to break it apart – just enjoy it for what it was.

“I had made peace, but when the position opened again I jumped at the opportunity and I am really looking forward to getting started again.”

Widener returns to a program he turned into a perennial state title contender – winning seven region tournaments and nine district titles. The Purples advanced to at least the state semifinals six times.

Widener was 206-32-20 – the highest winning percentage among Kentucky high school coaches that have won at least 100 games.

He inherits a team that finished 5-5-2 last season, losing to eventual state runner-up South Warren in the District 14 tournament.

The Spartans have won three region titles in the last five years and Warren Central has won the other two region titles – making it one of the toughest districts in the state, according to Widener.

He said his first task will be getting to know his new team.

“For me, I am going to have to hand out name tags,” Widener said. “I teach seniors at school, so I don’t really get them until they are older. As far as the underclassmen, I am not going to know many of them. I’m going to have to get out there and really get to know the kids again and establish relationships and get to know them.”

He added that ultimately he wants his success in his return to be defined by more than wins and losses.

“As far as the talent level, I hope the talent level is there,” Widener said. “If not then we will do our best to develop it. It is as important to me that these young men leave me as better young men than when they came in than it is that we win a bunch of games. Part of coaching is understanding that. As long as these kids are leaving here better than when I started with them, then I will consider that a success.”{&end}

– Follow prep sports reporter Micheal Compton on Twitter @mcompton428 or visit

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