N. Salem athletic director leaves legacy of support
December 13, 2005
Salem Statesman Journal (Oregon)
It's always the last person you want to see go, who leaves the building first. In the professional world, at least that's the way it seems. Talent rises to the top.
So when Trevor Wilson announced to the staff at North Salem High School last week that he was resigning his post as athletic director, it didn't come as much of a surprise to me.
In less than two years, Wilson has made a mark as one of the most profound and innovative athletic directors in the Valley League -- maybe the state.
Wilson will take his talents to Westminster College in Salt Lake City, where he will take the athletic director position there in February.
And while the reason for his departure may be more family motivated than anything -- after moving from Utah to take the North Salem job his family has yearned to get back -- it wouldn't have been long before he climbed the ladder in another way, possibly as a principal or as an AD at a college around these parts.
"Salem is home to me," said Wilson, a McKay graduate who was an assistant on the men's basketball team at Weber State University before accepting the North Salem job in spring of 2004. "But it really isn't to my kids. So it looks like it's the best thing to do."
A noble decision, but also an unfortunate one for North Salem and the coaches and athletes he leaves behind.
Since Wilson took over, the atmosphere surrounding athletics at Salem's first high school has turned from senior center bridge night to Super Bowl Sunday. Participation has increased 30 percent under Wilson's supervision. His coaches revere him for his unwavering support. And athletes are grateful for making their teams relevant again.
In year one, the football team made the Class 4A state playoffs for the first time since 1992 and advanced to the second round. This year, the boy's soccer team advanced to the semifinals of the 4A playoffs, a place it has never been before. Also this fall, the boys cross country team qualified for the 4A state meet for the first time since 1991.
And the teams that didn't make the headlines all are in better shape, with talented coaches at the helm and more athletes in the pool, on the mat or whatever the case may be, than when Wilson arrived.
When asked if he got everything done that he wanted to, his response was as you would expect from a person with such ambition.
"Maybe not everything I set out to do," Wilson said. "I like to think in my own mind, and maybe only in my mind, that I think things are moving in the right direction, maybe a little bit more than when I came in."
He cites the participation increase as his best accomplishment.
Last year's success of the football team was another high point, which he said, "made an enormous impact on our student body."
The key to his success? About as complicated as putting one foot in front of the other and strolling through the halls of his school. Wilson wasn't the type to oversee things from behind a glass window.
"We have good athletes that walk the halls of this school, you've just got to get them out," he said.
And once he got them in his office his convincing and confident personality took over. And it usually was a done deal. If money was a problem for not participating, which it often is at schools such as North Salem, he would find a way to help with that. If grades were a problem, Wilson would put them on a plan to remedy it. The real benefit of high school athletics is what Wilson tried to uncover, getting kids involved so that they stay in school, better their lives and are prepared for the future. You hear it said all the time, Wilson lived it.
"I spent a pretty fair amount of time working with kids individually, finding out why they're not out for sports," he said.
His coaches loved him because whatever they needed, within reason, Wilson would make it happen.
"He was so supportive of the entire coaching staff," boys basketball coach Kevin Goin said.
Goin, who was in place when Wilson arrived, said he tries to get everybody in the school involved in sports, from the 5-foot-6 freshman at the end of the bench who has never played basketball before to the kids working concessions or setting up before games.
"His leaving is a real blow to this school," Goin said.
As for the future, Wilson likes to think North Salem is on the right track. He doesn't have illusions of grandeur, however.
"I think the success North can find will be in spots," he said. "As opposed to other schools that create program after program that can be dominate, like a school like Sprague can do."
He said the reason for that is their youth programs in all sports aren't as strong. "When freshman football players arrive here, it's usually the first time they've put the pads on," he said.
And that stems from the fact that the student population is more transitory than more affluent areas of town. A lot of kids leave in the middle of their stay at North Salem or arrive late.
But that doesn't mean a lot can't be accomplished. He feels that if the same climate occurs, creating excitement around sports for all areas of the student body, than who knows how far North Salem can go.
It's just too bad he won't be around to see what he started.