A controversial coaching search has concluded for the Montesano girls basketball program as the Bulldogs will be led by Mark Mansfield this season, the school announced Friday.
Mansfield served as the assistant coach at Capital High School for the past seven seasons before accepting the head coaching position at Montesano.
The move comes after the Montesano School Board decided not to renew Julie Graves’ contract following a 4-1 vote on Oct. 24.
Graves had been at the helm of the program for 15 seasons.
Mansfield said Monte Athletic Director Tim Trimble expressed interest in him early on.
“(Trimble) contacted me and said there was going to be a change and that if I was interested it was going to be posted. When it was posted a week or so ago, I applied and interviewed last week.”
Despite the level of discussion surrounding the coaching vacancy, Mansfield wasn’t aware of any controversy until he began looking into the job.
Mansfield said he hopes to build on what Graves had established during her 15-year tenure.
“I wasn’t aware of what was going on until I inquired about the open position. I learned a little bit about it and, obviously, it wasn’t the best situation,” he said. “I don’t know a lot about it not being (in Montesano), so I’m just going to try to move the program forward to the best of my ability. Hopefully, we can continue what Coach Graves had been doing.”
Masnfield has the challenge of working with a short time frame before the start of the season, with the first official practice just 10 days away. To help ease the transition, Mansfield said he would prefer to have most of the assistants from Graves’ coaching staff stay on and plans to meet with them this week.
“Any help I can get from people who have been part of the program will be valuable,” he said.
Montesano’s new coach has already taken some time to meet a few of the Bulldogs players since being hired. He has also been in touch with Monte boys basketball head coach Doug Galloway to help get familiarized with his new surroundings. Galloway had also previously coached at Capital.
Mansfield has also been working on putting together a game plan to maximize this year’s talent. He said he’s looking forward to working with a group that has a lot of returners from last year’s squad.
“The last couple of days have been really busy, putting stuff together that I think we want to do, which could change once we get going,” he said. “But there are some very good athletes and we’re going to try to take advantage of all the athletic gifts we have.”