Battle Ground High School: Matt Stanfill leaving sports after leaving legacy for the community

Matt Stanfill, who is transitioning out of sports administration, was instrumental in landing two major WIAA events during his time as athletic director at Battle Ground High School. Photo by Paul Valencia
Matt Stanfill, who is transitioning out of sports administration, was instrumental in landing two major WIAA events during his time as athletic director at Battle Ground High School. Photo by Paul Valencia

The WIAA calls Battle Ground home to its state cheer competition as well as state regional basketball games

Paul Valencia

Matt Stanfill is moving on from sports administration but he is not moving away from Battle Ground Public Schools.

The community has become his home.

“I’m a Tiger. I didn’t grow up in this community but this is where my roots are,” Stanfill said. “I live in this community. I serve in this community. I’ve fallen in love with this area.”

Under Stanfill’s leadership as the athletic director at Battle Ground High School, and through the efforts of dozens of staff and volunteers, the high school has become a destination for two major events held by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.

Thousands of people from throughout the state come to Battle Ground High School every February for the state basketball tournament and the state cheer competition.

“Matt is phenomenal to work with,” said Cindy Adsit, an assistant executive director of the WIAA.

Stanfill, with more than 35 years of experience in education, is transitioning into what will become more of a day job with the district. He has been the high school’s athletic director since the 2012-13 academic year. His contract as AD ends at the end of this month. He will maintain his status as an assistant principal but he will move into the role of lead administrator at Battle Ground Virtual Academy.

“I’m truly looking forward to the next adventure,” Stanfill said.

Before looking ahead, though, Clark County Today wanted to take a look back on how Battle Ground High School became a big-time player with the WIAA.

It started with basketball.

The WIAA announced after the 2009-10 basketball season that it would be making drastic changes to the state basketball tournaments, taking the opening round out of the Tacoma Dome and playing regional games throughout the state at high schools or small colleges.

After some tweaking of the format for the next few seasons, the WIAA ended up with a mixture of elimination games and seeding contests — still considered state tournament games but played at regional sites. The first year, the closest site for any Clark County team was Mark Morris High School in Longview or W.F. West High School in Chehalis. 

“The local teams didn’t get an opportunity to play local,” Stanfill recalled. 

He had a solution.

Battle Ground High School could be a perfect venue for state regional basketball. It has a gym with a large capacity and a campus with plenty of parking. In 2016, Battle Ground hosted five state regional playoff basketball games, featuring five Clark County teams.

Battle Ground has been a host every tournament since then, as well. In 2018, the school hosted five games in a row on a Saturday, with tip-offs at noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m, and 8 p.m.

“It gets pretty intense,” Stanfill said. “Just the logistics of getting people in and out of your facility, all the moving pieces. Visiting teams. Bands. Cheerleaders.”

Interestingly, teams cannot play on their home courts at state regionals. Stanfill and the Battle Ground staff did this not for the Tigers but for other Clark County teams.

“If this was a way to help the Seton Catholics, the Camases, the La Centers, to get a local venue … how cool is that?” Stanfill said. “How can we serve not just Battle Ground, but serve Clark County?”

The success of state basketball led to another opportunity, one with a larger economic impact on the community: the state cheerleading competition.

For basketball, teams come to Battle Ground for one game. Those games are played on Friday or Saturday, but the visiting teams, and their fans, usually just travel to and from on the same day. 

State cheer, however, brings in more than 100 teams, and their parents and fans, and it is often an overnight stay. Those athletes and visitors are staying in Clark County, eating at local restaurants.

“One day I got a call from Cindy Adsit,” Stanfill said. “She said, ‘Would you consider hosting state cheer in Battle Ground?’”

It turns out, the WIAA had lost its contract with the University of Washington. State cheer was also at what is now called the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett for a year. 

Stanfill was not too sure Battle Ground could live up to those venues.

“You’re going to go from the University of Washington to Battle Ground High School? You’ve got to be kidding me,” he told Adsit.

Still, with the organizational skills displayed with state basketball, the WIAA knew Battle Ground could handle this larger operation. Stanfill also knew the community could shine. So Battle Ground signed on for one year, to “see how it goes,” Stanfill said.

That was 2018. 

“It was not particularly well received among the coaches across the state,” Stanfill acknowledged. 

He understood. Battle Ground High School is not Hec Edmundson Pavilion at UW. 

But the competition worked. The facility worked. The logistics worked. The WIAA appreciated how Battle Ground embraced every challenge and accepted the event.

So state cheer came back again in 2019.

“Everybody knew where they were going to park, they knew where they were going to stay, they knew where the restaurants were. There was familiarity,” Stanfill said. “Going from the first year to the second year, there were smiles on the coaches’ faces. It started turning into a place where people were looking forward to attending.”

The WIAA has made Battle Ground the home of state cheer. With a lot of the credit going to Stanfill.

“He has worked with local businesses to support the event, convinced the teachers to open their classrooms so teams have a quiet place of their own during the event, (he) pulls together an amazing staff … to work a very long and exhaustive event,” Adsit said. “Every one of them has his attitude of ‘We’ll do whatever you need, whenever you need it.’”

This past winter, Stanfill was told more than 6,000 people were at Battle Ground High School for the two-day competition.

Food. Lodging. Shopping. That adds up for Battle Ground. Stanfill loves to see the signs at local restaurants, welcoming the cheerleaders.

It works because of community leaders and business owners, he added.

“Whenever I’ve had to go to the community and ask for any kind of assistance, people are very willing,” Stanfill said.

Again, Stanfill is not retiring. Just moving into a new position. He will still work for Battle Ground schools, and he will still serve the community. He and his wife Deanna live in Amboy, where Matt is a volunteer firefighter.

“I wasn’t born and raised here, but it feels like my hometown,” Stanfill said. “Battle Ground High School and the Battle Ground community, I think they are synonymous. The community is supportive of the school.”

Also read:

Receive comment notifications
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x