Walla Walla athletic director Dirk Hansen has his hands full this spring. Not only does he have nine sports to tend to, but now he also is looking for boys and girls basketball coaches.
Boys coach John Golden and girls coach Conor Fish each tendered their resignations after their seasons ended, leaving Hansen to fill two key positions.
“I hated to see both of them leave,” Hansen said. “They are both great guys, but I also understand. After a while, it can become a grind. I really enjoyed working with both of them. Boys basketball has always been one of our shiny cars in the garage. The cupboard is not bare for either program. We don’t expect to take a step back by any means.”
Hansen is not the only Mid-Columbia Conference athletic director searching for new coaches. Southridge’s Tim Wood, who just hired a volleyball coach (Emily Otto), still is looking for a wrestling coach and, as of last Friday, a girls soccer coach.
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Emma Sanders, who coached the Suns for one season, has taken a job at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
At Kennewick, Anna Fazari is having to replace wrestling coach Dwane Sitler, who has been with the program in one capacity or another since 2000.
Hansen said the Walla Walla School District will be able to offer teaching jobs to go along with the coaching gigs, which he hopes will draw quality applicants.
“We are searching in-district and across the Pacific Northwest,” Hansen said. “We will close March 30, then go through the applications. We hope to have a couple of people to offer the board April 24.”
Golden, one of the longest tenured coaches in the MCC, took over for Jim Thacker 13 years ago. He was an assistant for Thacker, along with Richland coach Earl Streufert.
“I was Thacker’s assistant for nine years,” Golden said. “I coached with Earl and Thacker for four years, then Earl left for Richland. I could not have asked for two better mentors. Thack is in the Hall of Fame and Earl soon will be.”
Golden, who still will teach history at Wa-Hi, said the decision to step down was a hard one to make, but with his son, Scott, graduating this spring, and with a strong program in place, it made it a little easier.
“It was fun to coach my son,” Golden said. “I was handed a good program and I didn’t want to screw it up. We have a lot of good young players coming back. Having discussions with my wife (Susie), it just seemed like the right time. It’s never easy. I’ve been active in the fire department for 26 years (as a volunteer firefighter) and I will still do that.”
Fish coached the Walla Walla girls program for three years after being an assistant for several years.
Sanders said it wasn’t her intention to leave the Suns after one season, but the job opportunity at Children’s was too good to pass up.
“It’s my dream company,” she said. “For my future and career development, it was a decision I had to make. I really enjoyed coaching the girls. They had so much growth in one season. I was proud of their work ethic this season. If Seattle Children’s was in the Tri-Cities, this wouldn’t be an issue.”
Sanders will be a pediatric mental health specialist in Seattle, working with children who have spectrum disorders.
“The people who work there are amazing,” Sanders said. “The research they are doing is so innovative.”
Though she will be four hours away, Sanders said she will keep an eye on the Suns.
“I am excited to see how Southridge does,” she said. “They will accomplish whatever they set out to do. It will be exciting to see their growth. I want the best for them.”