By David Krueger Herald Writer
After spending eight years helping turn the Oak Harbor boys basketball program around, Wildcats head coach Mike Washington stepped down from his position on Wednesday.
Washington met with Oak Harbor administrators who wanted him to work on additional aspects of the program, like getting involved with younger kids earlier on in their basketball careers. Washington was worried that he didn’t have the energy to take it all on.
“Would I have liked to continue to coach? Yes. But I decided it was best for me to change,” Washington said. “I’m the type of person when I do something, I do it to the fullest. If I can’t give it my heart and soul, I’d rather not do it. What they were asking me to do, I couldn’t give it my full heart and soul.”
The past eight seasons have seen sustained success from an Oak Harbor team that went to the district tournament for three straight seasons from 2011-13 for the first time in over 20 years. Twice, the Wildcats hosted district games — for the first time in school history — winning both.
“When I took the job in 2006 my goal, and I said it in the interview, is to make Oak Harbor a respectable program,” Washington said. “And I feel like I’ve done that.”
When looking back, Washington said his players really stand out. His relationship with former players, including Dayne Herron and Marshall Lobbestael, were his most memorable part of the job.
“What I learned the most was having great relationships with the kids,” Washington said. “Those are the ones that are going to be in the community in the future. That’s what was huge for me.”
There was a pair of particularly special players, in Washington’s sons Michael and Drew.
“It was very cool, and it was hard at the same time. It’s hard to separate ‘dad’ from ‘coach,’” Washington said. “And that works both ways, for me and them. It really helped our relationship. I wouldn’t take it back for anything. I was very fortunate, and I thank God every day that I walked into that gym that I was able to do that.”
Washington looks forward to traveling to watch his sons play. Michael Jr. is a sophomore on the Princeton squad and Drew will be playing at Seattle University next season.
He’s also looking forward to spending some time around the house with his wife.
“For the last eight years it’s just been basketball, basketball, basketball,” Washington said. “Now I have all this free time. I don’t know what to do. “Now I can go and watch my kids and visit them. Spend time with my wife and see her at home. Not have to always worry about not being able to go do things because of basketball.”
However, Washington hasn’t ruled out a return to coaching, saying he wouldn’t mind working at a community college or another high school if the right opportunity came along.
“I would really like to coach at the community college level, or something like that,” Washington said. “Or if I ever move and a high school is needing a coach, maybe go back to it. It has to be the right place. It has to be the right time.”