All in a day’s work

It’s 9:15 on a Friday night. The game ended a half-hour ago and the once-busy boys locker room at Monroe High School is nearly silent.

The only noise comes from Brett Wille, head coach of the Monroe boys basketball team, as he patiently sums up why his Bearcats lost a tight division clash that evening against Lake Stevens.

For most coaches, that post-game interview would have signaled the end of a long day.

But Wille’s night was far from over. He went directly from the locker room to another corner of the building to chaperone a school dance.

A work day that started at 6 a.m. and ended around midnight was a bit extreme for Wille, but not unheard of considering his many responsibilities. Besides coaching basketball, he is also Monroe’s athletic director and an assistant principal.

This is Wille’s busiest time of the school year. He frequently works 60-plus hours per week, including every week night on rare occasions.

Does it ever get overwhelming for the ultra-busy 32-year-old?

“Actually, I really enjoy it. The basketball part of it sort of keeps me sane,” said Wille, in his seventh season as Monroe’s coach.

“I really look forward to practice and having a direct, one-on-one impact with kids,” added Wille, a former social studies and English teacher. “Sometimes you miss out on that as an administrator. But basketball allows me to still get that personal contact with kids that I really enjoy. It’s something that I really look forward to every day.”

Wille is in a unique situation. Most school districts avoid having a head coach simultaneously serve as athletic director. A big reason is the time commitment, but another concern is that there could be a conflict of interest — that an athletic director/coach might favor his or her sport over others.

Wille, a first-year athletic director, said he’s grateful for the rare opportunity. He said he’s been able to adjust his schedule to account for his added responsibilities. As for any possible favoritism, he said he strives to support every coach equally.

“I’m willing to do anything for every single one of our programs,” Wille said. “Just because I’m a basketball coach doesn’t mean I’m partial to basketball. Athletics in general are important, and I’m going to do whatever I can to help them.”

Numerous problems can arise when a head coach becomes an athletic director, Monroe High principal John Lombardi said. But none of those issues come up with Wille, said Lombardi.

“His honesty and integrity are unquestionable,” the principal said.

Wille’s love for athletics — and the lessons kids gain from participating in them — bloomed in high school. He was a three-sport athlete at Woodinville High. Besides meeting his future wife there, he discovered his professional path.

“Athletics made such a huge impact on my life as a young person, I just want to be an athletic director that can help create those memories for other kids in all sports,” Wille said, noting he was particularly inspired by former Woodinville boys basketball coach Joe Meagher, now an assistant at Jackson.

Bruce Brown, Wille’s basketball coach at Northwest University in Kirkland, said he’s thrilled to see Wille contributing in so many ways at Monroe. Wille is a natural teacher and coach at heart, Brown said.

“Brett was blessed with just an unbelievable number of gifts. It’s no wonder that he has as many choices as he does,” said Brown.

Wille’s toughest choice might come later this school year when he and district officials review his workload and future. This school year is a test for Wille. He said he’s trying to prove he can handle all of his coaching and administrative tasks.

The coaching load is eased, said Wille, by three reliable, knowledgeable assistants: Dan Bare, Nick Wold and Tyson Horner.

Lately, Wille’s personal life has been just as hectic as his work life — but in a good way. Last month Wille and his wife, Tambi Wille, locally adopted a baby they named Kamryn. She is their first child.

Wille called Kamryn’s arrival a breath of fresh air. “When you have that first kid it sort of puts everything in perspective. You see how important family is. I really want to be there for my wife and my daughter,” Wille said.

In addition to fulfilling his other roles, Wille seems to be succeeding at fatherhood.

“Brett’s a great dad,” said Tambi Wille, a Mukilteo School District teacher who, like her husband, played basketball at Northwest University.

So what’s the key to balancing so many responsibilities?

Exercise is huge, Wille said. He tries to run 20 miles per week and lift weights, sometimes getting up at 4 a.m. to fit in a workout.

“I just throw on a headset and kind of get lost in my own thoughts for a while,” Wille said.

After that, it’s back to work. But for Wille, there’s a hazy line between work and fulfillment.

“I know having a lot of things to do for some people might be stressful,” Wille said, “but it keeps me going and keeps a challenge out there for me to continue to work towards.”

Contact Herald Writer Mike Cane at For more high school sports news, check out the prep sports blog Double Team at

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Monroe High’s Monique Fierke looks for the basket during drills at practice on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 in Monroe, Wa. Fierke is the leading scorer for the Bearcats. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
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