You are sitting at a stop light, minding your own business.
All of the sudden a reckless driver swerves through the intersection and smashes into your car. Sure, it wasn’t your fault but it’s become your problem. How do you deal with it?
Kamiak football coach Dan Mack used the example to tell his players how they would overcome a devastating situation. The Knights might have to forfeit two victories, he explained earlier this season, in which Kamiak accidentally used an academically ineligible player.
Coupled with a late-season loss against Edmonds-Woodway, the forfeits put Mack and the Knights on the brink of missing the playoffs. An undefeated season suddenly turned into an emotional rollercoaster.
For his ability to steer Kamiak through adversity all the way to the Class 4A state quarterfinals, Mack is The Herald’s All-Area Football Coach of the Year. His seventh year as the Knights head coach was his most challenging yet.
“There were about three weeks there where most of us guys never got any sleep,” Mack said. “It was a low point but our kids were able to turn the negative into a positive. It deepened our resolve as a football program to be the best football team we could be.”
Kamiak recovered from its unexpected challenges to win two playoff games before losing 28-21 in a state quarterfinal at Skyline.
Mack self-reported the eligibility infraction. His openness throughout the ordeal helped Kamiak cope. “He always was honest with everybody,” Kamiak running backs coach Tim Winsor said. “He let them know exactly what the situation was. He always said, ‘This is something that we can deal with.’”
Mack told his players a measure of a man is not what he has achieved but what he has overcome. “He just always stayed positive,” Kamiak quarterback Mark Iddins said of Mack. “He told us ‘You’re gonna get through. You’re gonna survive this somehow.’ And we did.”
“I enjoy seeing kids improve as athletes and people,” Mack said. “I love seeing a group of kids come together for a common goal and sacrifice for a common goal.”
Mack is now on 60-16 on the field as Kamiak’s head coach. He credits his players and assistants for their year-round effort that keeps the team near the top of the Wesco South season after season.
“We do have a system,” Winsor said, “but within that system we have a lot of flexibility. We do adjust a lot to our personnel. Every group of kids has its own strengths and weaknesses. What Dan is so good at doing is adapting our system to the talent we have.”
This season, Mack’s Knights showed they had talent and determination.