Sports opinion: YPS lucky to have Mike Clark as its athletic director

Yukon High School athletics has seen a lot of change over the past academic year with several prominent head coaches leaving for other jobs.

First, it was head football coach Brian Sauser, who announced he was leaving the Miller football program and going back to Iowa to be closer to his family. Sauser was coming off a winless season in 2016 and had just won two total games in his two years as the face of YHS football.

Then last week, head boys basketball coach Scott Raper and head girls basketball coach Eric Sailer announced they were leaving YHS as well.

Raper accepted the head coach position with Bishop McGuinness and Sailer accepted the opening at Bethany High School.

With three of the most prominent head coaches leaving in the same year, there has been some speculation around the Yukon community about whether or not Yukon Public Schools Director of Athletics Mike Clark is trying to “clean house” and bring in new head coaches that he wants inside his athletic department.

As the sports editor for Yukon’s paper, I can assure you, that is not the case at all.

Clark was hired as the athletic director at YPS back in March of 2016 and has done a tremendous job in that position in the past 14 months.

One rumor that was spread around the Yukon community back in early December was that Sauser was relieved of his duties after two years and two wins as the head man for Miller football. Sauser stepped down from his position for exactly the reasons he said he did. He wanted to be closer to his family in Iowa.

Sauser was feeling enormous pressure from the parents of the Yukon players and he chose to step away. He informed Clark of his decision and the pressure then turned to Clark to go and find a new head football coach for Yukon.

Clark took his time and made sure he made the best possible hire and that’s exactly what he did. Yukon introduced Jeremy Reed as its new head football coach at school board meeting in early January.

Reed has started to change the culture of Yukon football in just a little more than four months on the job. You can already see a difference in how the Millers are attacking their offseason workouts and the excitement level around the program is higher than it has been in a long time.

I know he hasn’t even coached a game yet and he ultimately will be measured on his wins and losses but it is already fair to say that Clark hit a homerun with Reed.

In the case of Raper and Sailer, it doesn’t take long to understand why the two basketball coaches vacated their positions. Sailer wanted to be at the same school his wife teaches at and where his children attend, which is Bethany High School and Raper can retire as a public schools teacher and then take a coaching job at a private school like Bishop McGuinness and not have to teach.

Yukon is a special place to be a head coach but it is hard to turn down those opportunities if you are Sailer and Raper.

The search has started for Clark, as he hopes to make hires for the boys and girls basketball programs as soon as possible, but one thing is for sure, he won’t make a hire unless it is the right fit for the school, community and most of all the student-athletes.

Clark understands that his first job is to make sure the Yukon student-athletes are taken care of in the best possible way. He is constantly telling me that it’s all about the kids and that Yukon Public Schools is an academic institution above anything else.

Clark made a big time hire with Reed and he will make two more great hires with the basketball programs.

How do I know this?

Because Clark was a big time hire himself for Yukon Public Schools.

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