WIAA’s executive director announces retirement date

Mike Colbrese will remain with WIAA until end of 2018-19 school year

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, the governing body for high school sports in the state, will be searching for a new executive director.

Mike Colbrese
Mike Colbrese

Mike Colbrese announced this week that he will be retiring after the 2018-19 school year, which will be his 26th academic year in charge of the WIAA.

That will give him a year and a half to continue doing the job he loves, and it gives the WIAA time to find his replacement.

“I’ve always felt that students who participate in speech, music, drama, debate or sports programs, anything that ties them to a school (beyond the classroom), is vital to a strong education program that produces well-rounded students,” Colbrese said in a phone interview Thursday morning. “It makes our schools stronger, our communities stronger, and our country stronger. That’s why I do what I do.”

He has no plans for what he will do after he leaves the position.

“It’s way too early to think about what I want to do because I’m doing what I really want to do right now,” Colbrese said in a phone interview Thursday morning. “I love this job.”

Still, he said the timing is right. The executive board asked Colbrese for an 18-month notice, and the 68-year old figured by the spring of 2019, he would be ready to step away from his post.

He is proud of his time at the WIAA. His time as executive director is the longest in the association’s history.

When he was first hired, one of his missions, he said, was to ensure all member schools had a voice.

“Member schools get to help make decisions and take responsibility,” Colbrese said.

With that goal in mind, he set out to meet those decision makers.

“I spent a lot of time at our schools, meeting superintendents, principals, ADs, coaches, to make sure we heard what they had to say,” Colbrese said. “I enjoy visiting with people. I enjoy the challenge of working through different issues together.”

Colbrese said he anticipates that he will help with the transition with the next executive director. The executive board is expected to conduct a nationwide search.

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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