Greg Erickson has seen quite a bit in his 40-plus years of education.
Whether it was in teaching, coaching or administration, the longtime Marysville School District athletics director has created many long-lasting memories through his career.
But the most memorable part of his tenure in education is the relationships he’s fostered along the way.
“There’s just so many things that I think back on that mean so much to me. It probably has to do more with the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve developed over the time that made my work in education so special,” Erickson said. “I’ve met some incredibly great people that most people wouldn’t know had a huge impact on my life (and) made me want to come to work every day. I’ve told people that I really learned how to laugh as an educator. Some of the things that you experience during the course of a career, it’s amazing.”
Erickson, an Everett native, has retired after 26 years as the Marysville School District athletics director and nearly a half-century of work in education.
“I’m blessed to have found a career that fit for me,” he said. “A lot of people can’t say that, and all the people that I’ve met and developed relationships with over time mean everything to me.”
Erickson saw plenty of gifted athletes and great teams pass through the hallways of Marysville schools. But wins and losses don’t measure the experience he had.
“Sometimes you watch a JV or freshman game and a kid that’s probably not gonna play beyond freshman team, or C-team, or JV team helps a team win a game,” Erickson said. “It’s about the excitement, and the enjoyment, and the experience of the parents watching their kids succeed.
“I think we spend too much time worrying about championships. I think we don’t spend enough time creating a quality experience regardless of what level a kid’s at. It should be a special experience that helps develop a kid in their growth as a person.”
Erickson said athletics helps develop a culture and identity at a school. He remembers when athletics were used as a “rallying point for the community” during the record-breaking 2003 Marysville teachers’ strike, and when it helped people come together after the Marysville Pilchuck shooting in 2014.
“It’s just weird how tragic or tough times bring people together,” Erickson said, “and athletics really seemed to be a focal point for the Marysville community.”
He also oversaw the introduction of varsity athletics at Marysville Getchell after the school opened in 2010. The Chargers started playing varsity sports at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year.
Erickson said the process had its challenges, but watching Marysville Getchell develop its own culture through sports has been rewarding.
Erickson grew up in Everett and graduated from Everett High School in 1971.
Becoming an athletics director was very fitting for Erickson, who used to organize games in his neighborhood as a kid.
He even organized a basketball game between his elementary school and the Our Lady of Perpetual Health catholic school in Everett, receiving the blessing from a nun at the parochial school to use its gym for the game. Erickson used family connections with the Everett bus system for transportation. After one parent raised concerns over supervision for the event, his mother volunteered to come along as a chaperone. Erickson said she was the only spectator in attendance. There were no officials and the players called their own game.
After graduating from Everett, Erickson went on to play football at Everett Community College and the University of Montana. He graduated from Montana in 1976.
After a brief stint in sports medicine, Erickson went into teaching and never looked back.
“When I went to do my student-teaching, I fell in love with teaching,” he said. “I really enjoyed it.”
Erickson landed a substitute-teaching job in Everett and coached his alma mater’s sophomore football team, which featured current Arizona State University assistant and former University of Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen.
He got his first full-time position in Lake Stevens, where he spent 16 years between the junior high and high school before taking over as athletics director in Marysville. Erickson spent 13 years as the Lake Stevens High School track and field coach and 12 as an assistant with the football team.
An opportunity to come back to Everett would have meant a lot to Erickson but, after taking on his position in Marysville, he had “absolutely no regrets.”
“None whatsoever,” he said. “Everything happens for a reason, and the people that have become a part of my life (since) have made it really special.”