For nearly two decades, both Corvallis and Crescent Valley high schools have had steady, beloved figures serving in the athletic director role.
But when Corvallis' Bob Holt and Crescent Valley’s Craig Ellingson each announced that they would retire from that role at the end of last school year, it left the district’s two largest high schools with a substantial void to fill at the helm of their respective athletic departments.
To replace Holt and Ellingson, the district set its sights outside the Corvallis area and brought in a pair of administrators who are eager to build on the work of their predecessors while also implementing their own ideas. Mark Henderson (Crescent Valley) and Salvador Munoz (Corvallis) were both hired in May to fill hybrid athletic director/assistant principal roles, and each has been plenty busy with the fall sports schedule in full swing.
However, neither will be expected to approach the job in the same fashion as Holt or Ellingson did.
“Bob and Craig did a lot on their own — they were out on the lawn mower mowing the soccer fields,” Henderson said. “They were sometimes three, four nights a week staying here for events. But I have duties in the assistant principal area as well.
"… Craig’s advice was really to try to push for some type of game management to free up the athletic director to be that type of parent liaison, that community liaison. To build supervision schedules and work with the coaches and the parents and the players more than just facility maintenance.”
Even with the obvious crosstown rivalry between the schools, both Henderson and Munoz believe the juxtaposition of their arrivals is a chance for CHS and CV to collectively improve the academic and athletic experience of students in the area.
“Mark and I have been talking quite a bit and we actually developed a list of things that we want to revamp,” Munoz said. “There are a lot of changes that we want to make that we think will enhance our programs. So it’s been cool. We’ve been working on it and I think that gives us some credibility, that coaches at both schools can be like, ‘Okay, we’re doing the same things that they are.'”
Some of the plans they have discussed are hiring game managers to greet opposing teams and officials and set up facilities before games, as well as creating a unified athletic department website at each school to provide resources for coaches.
You have free articles remaining.
“Our goal is to work together so that we’re aligned on everything we do,” Henderson said. “From our code of conduct, to how we’re communicating with parents and coaches. Our philosophy around in-season and out-of-season coaching and training, club teams and all those sorts of things — we’ve talked a lot already.
"There’s some things that we’re going to work on refining and changing as we go through this year. I know I’m really excited to be able to come at the same time as somebody else knew so that we have that opportunity to really work together.”
Munoz said one change that has already been implemented is a new code of conduct — specifically, he wants to crack down on unexcused absences among student-athletes.
“I heard students would get away with not showing up to class and then playing in a big game the next day or that same day,” Munoz said. “As of right now, my student-athletes know that they're gonna talk to me if they were gonna a period and it wasn’t excused. … It’s exciting, that type of thing that is helping them be in class. They know that they want to play and they know that if they aren’t in class they won’t get to play or practice.”
Munoz, who graduated from Oregon State with a bachelor's degree in Spanish and a masters in education, previously worked as a behavioral specialist and Spanish teacher in the Salem-Keizer Public Schools before relocating to Corvallis. He was also an assistant soccer coach at Willamette University.
Henderson arrived from Monroe High in Monroe, Washington, where he most recently served as athletic director and assistant principal. Previously, he worked as principal, dean of students and math teacher, and coached a multitude of sports. He has a bachelor's degree in education from Pacific Lutheran University and a master’s in education from City University in Bellevue, Washington.
Even with some large shoes to fill from their predecessors, both Munoz and Henderson hope that their differing backgrounds in education can help improve the futures of both schools as they work together.
“I was telling friends of mine when I first got the job, I’m replacing a legend,” Munoz said of Holt. “You know the guy is a legend when they named the stadium after him and he’s still working there. So I’ve got a lot of work to do. But I feel like I can bring a different perspective and I can do some great things there and help our coaches and student-athletes.”