From his youth in Clifton, Texas, to his years at Trinity College in San Antonio, to his professional life in Texas, Lake Oswego and West Linn, Mark Horak has lived his life in sports.
He began as an athlete, transitioned to coaching and teaching, then moved on to administration, serving as athletic director at Lake Oswego High School from 2007-2014 and at West Linn from 2014-2020. He previously taught at Central Catholic and served as AD there from 1999-2007.
Horak, 61, left his job at West Linn at the end of February, but needless to say, his latest move still involves sports. Horak left WLHS to become Assistant Director at the Lake Oswego School District Community School, helping schedule facilities use for youth sports and overseeing a variety of youth leagues.
While much of his professional life has been focused on sports, his latest move was not. Instead, it was about family.
Horak and his wife Kristin have two grandchildren — their daughter Kate (a high school counselor in Woodinville, Washington) and son-in-law Marcus' two young daughters, Maisyn (age 3) and Kamden (16 months) — and those girls played a huge role in Horak's latest move.
"I looked at all the nights that I am away from home and the … Friday nights where I would always be at ballgames and then couldn't go up and see the grandchildren until Saturday," Horak said. "We'd spend Saturday night (with his daughter's family) and then have to come back Sunday. This is going to allow me to … spend more time with family. After 22 years as an athletic director, it's a nice feeling that this is going to happen. … I felt it was time."
In his new position, Horak's duties include:
• Working with middle school athletic coordinators to facilitate operation of the various sports their schools offer.
• Serving as a connection between the school district and high school club sports, including boys and girls lacrosse, boys and girls water polo, boys and girls skiing, and boys and girls snowboarding.
• Helping schedule facilities use for high school and middle school summer sports camps, as well as coordinating facilities rentals to club sports.
"This job came open and I felt it would be a good fit," Horak said. "I felt it would be a good time to go from the everyday stress and movement of an athletic director to still working with sports, doing sports scheduling, but moving more toward having a little more time I can spend with family.
"I am still trying to learn all the ins and outs of the position and it will take me a while. I am just thankful to work with a great team headed by Community Schools Director Vanessa Davalos."
That said, the timing of his move was difficult, coming at the end of the winter sports season and just days before the implementation of statewide restrictions on high school sports related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Those restrictions forced cancellation of remaining winter activities and at least a lengthy delay of spring sports contests.
"The timing, if anything, is the worst part of it," Horak said. "Normally … you're wanting to do a move like that between school years. However, this position came open and I felt that it was an opportunity that if I didn't take it now, I might miss it.
"That was probably the hardest part because I never like to leave a school in a lurch or a bad situation, but it was something I felt that, if I'm going to do this, I need to do it and move on and not look back."
"It was really a pleasure to work with people who cared and wanted the best for their kids."
— Mark Horak
The West Linn-Wilsonville School District and Lake Oswego School District worked together to make Horak's move a smooth one, with West Linn naming Ian Lamont — previously the athletic director at Lakeridge — as interim assistant principal/athletic director.
"The school districts both worked together and West Linn was awesome — they allowed me to move over in March, about two weeks after I let them know that I had been offered the position," Horak said. "It worked out for the best."
Horak said that, along with West Linn athletic secretary Laurie Winkler, scheduling for WLHS spring sports had already been completed, though those schedules may change drastically if spring sports return in truncated fashion following the current school closure, which continues through April 28.
"Laurie and I had gotten everything organized for the spring so I felt like that was in good shape," Horak said. "The bad thing is that we've had to put everything on hold and no one knows how long this epidemic is going to last. (Everyone will) be really busy when we get back, if indeed we get back on the 28th. I'm just hoping that they find a cure pretty quickly so that we can go back to how we were before and move forward."
While Horak is leaving his West Linn position behind, he leaves with nothing but fond memories — and a long list of accomplishments the school's coaches and athletes achieved during his tenure.
Top-two state finishes by West Linn teams during Horak's years as athletic director included: football — first in 2016 and second in 2015; boys basketball — first in 2014, 2015 and 2016 (the Lions were also first in 2013 before Horak moved to West Linn); girls swimming — second in 2014; baseball — second in 2017; girls golf — first in 2014 and 2016, and second in 2015 and 2017; boys lacrosse — first in 204 and 2015; and girls lacrosse — first in 2015, and second in 2014 and 2016.
He went on to praise West Linn's coaching staff and credit them with their team's successes and the positive experiences they helped give their athletes.
"Every coach we have is so conscientious of making sure they're doing the best they can for their kids (and that) made my job easier," Horak said. "To be able to work with the caliber of coaches we had, whether it was at West Linn or Lake Oswego, I've been very, very fortunate to work with outstanding individuals throughout my career."
Needless to say, Horak will miss the many friends he made during his years at West Linn.
"(West Linn was) very similar to Lake Oswego and Central Catholic … in the sense that they all were supportive of their children, the community and the programs," he said. "The parents all wanted (their children) to be successful and they pushed their kids to be successful.
"That was a fortunate to situation for me because I was involved with schools where you had support all the way from the parents to the administration, to the student body, you name it. It was really a pleasure to work with people who cared and wanted the best for their kids."
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