Battle Ground hires former Bay football coach

Mark Oliverio back in town, back with a head coaching job

Mark Oliverio, who helped turn around the Hudson’s Bay football program, is hoping to do the same at Battle Ground.

Mark Oliverio, pending school-board approval, will be the next head coach of the Battle Ground football program. Oliverio was the head coach at Hudson’s Bay in 2015 and 2016. He moved away from Clark County but has returned “home,” he said. Photo courtesy Mark Oliverio
Mark Oliverio, pending school-board approval, will be the next head coach of the Battle Ground football program. Oliverio was the head coach at Hudson’s Bay in 2015 and 2016. He moved away from Clark County but has returned “home,” he said. Photo courtesy Mark Oliverio

The school announced Friday that Oliverio will take over for the Tigers, pending school board approval.

“I relish the opportunity to be around kids and be around the game and grow that program,” Oliverio said Friday afternoon.

Oliverio took over at Hudson’s Bay in 2015, coaching a program that had won five games — total — in the previous five years. The Eagles won two games his first year, then posted a winning season in 2016 — the first in 14 years at Bay.

A promotion at his work at SAS Retail led to his transfer to Cincinnati, Ohio. He still works for the company, but he is now able to do so online from anywhere. He moved back to Clark County, and wanted to get to work in the football community again.

“My boss is amazing,” Oliverio said. “He supports me doing this. I had to move to get the job, but now I have the best of both worlds. I’m able to do the job and be home. That’s pretty amazing. I’m grateful.”

Although not an educator, when he was the coach at Hudson’s Bay, he was a fixture on campus, every day, during school hours. He said he plans on doing the same at Battle Ground. 

“Mark has a great history, a proven track record. He’s a quality coach who comes highly recommended,” said Matt Stanfill, Battle Ground’s athletic director. “He brings a lot of energy to the program. He’s just a kid-magnet. We’re looking forward to the direction he’s going to take our program.”

Oliverio takes over from Mike Kesler, who resigned following the 2021 abbreviated football season. Kesler is the head of security with Battle Ground schools. He left on “completely wonderful terms,” Stanfill said, and is helping Oliverio in the transition.

While Oliverio takes over as the football coach, he also plans to support all sports at Battle Ground. That was his philosophy at Bay, as well. All athletes, boys and girls, will be sharing time in the weight room.

“He brings community to it, too,” Stanfill said. “He wants kids to be involved in sports, not just football. He wants to get kids in the weight room. All kids. Not just football. He’s an all-sports kind of guy.”

A quality football program, Oliverio said, can be the foundation for an entire athletic department.

“It’s a great opportunity to influence, for lack of a better description, a culture. A culture of working out. A culture of multi-sport athletes. A culture of trying to focus on the right things every day. Ultimately, that’s what it takes.

“Why shouldn’t it be for everybody?”

As far as football-specific expectations, Oliverio knows he is taking on a program that has seen its shares of losses in recent years. He has done that before, though.

“It adds perspective. It helps you make sure you are patient in the process,” Oliverio said. “It comes down to surrounding yourself with really good people. I think it takes a community. It takes everybody.”

Battle Ground is now in the four-team Class 4A Greater St. Helens League, along with Camas, Union, and Skyview.

“I have so much respect for the three coaches of the other teams,” he said of Jon Eagle, Rory Rosenbach, and Steve Kizer. “They’ve been doing it a long time. They’ve been doing it really well. I look up to them. I also think, what an amazing opportunity. You’re playing not only the three best teams locally, but three of the best teams in the state. For me, it’s an amazing opportunity.

“We have some work to do, for sure.”

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