It's family first for former Tualatin basketball coach Todd Jukkala
Former Tualatin boys and girls head basketball coach Todd Jukkala caught many by surprise when he stepped down from his position as the Timberwolves' varsity boys basketball coach this past spring. But the coach who spent nearly 30 years on a sideline and 17 on the sidelines at THS wasn't surprised at all. In fact, it was all part of a plan—kind of.
"When I took the job (boys coach) I felt like I was sort of on the clock for when my girls (his daughters) get to a point when if they're interested in competitive sports they'll have a lot going on, so I felt like a had about five years," Jukkala said. "Then the pandemic hit and it really became a grind. Two years felt like five and I started thinking more and more about it, and I pretty much knew during the season at some point that I was going to be done."
Jukkala spent 13 years as the head coach of the girls team at Tualatin and the past four years coaching the boys. The Hillsboro High School alum led the Timberwolves girls to a 245-96 record and six conference championships in his time on the sidelines, and after serving three years as an assistant to long-time Tualatin head coach Rick Osborn, coached the boys for four years, culminating with a league and state championship this past spring.
The now former coach named a few things from both his girls and boys coaching experience amongst his favorites, but couldn't help but recognize this past season as likely his most memorable. Obviously, because they'd won it all, but also because of the group of kids and how they'd committed to the team.
"A lot of people aren't willing to do the work because they don't want to feel bad or feel failure, and of course failure is an important part of growth," Jukkala said. "The seniors and the other guys on last year's team put in the work, and to see that payoff for them was really rewarding. They were unselfish, played hard on defense, rebounded well and just played together. And that's why we won."
Coaching in 2022 is full-time job. Jukkala said that during the season he was putting in upwards of 40 hours a week at practice, at games, and of course watching film. In addition, they have spring workouts, fall workouts and summer ball, leaving just a handful of weeks at the end of the summer for free time. That time commitment was obviously a major part of his decision to step down but said he didn't regret all the time he spent, and did and still enjoys the little things about the job that help make you successful.
"Certainly, you know you're putting in a lot of time, but at the same time you do it because that's what you have to do," he said. "I never wanted to our kids to lose a game because I hadn't prepared them well enough. There are going to be teams that are better than you no matter what you do, but I wanted them to be ready for it and that's why me and all my assistants put in the time."
Jukkala will still be teaching at Tualatin High and says that his coaching tenure has helped him become a better teacher, while at the same time his teaching did the same for his work on the sidelines. But in the absence of his basketball duties he'll certainly have more time on his hands.
What will he do with that time? He said he's accepted a position coaching job with the freshman football team and may catch a few games of his now former team come winter. But how frequently he's not sure. But what he is sure of is that he'll have more time to spend with the people that matter most to him—his family.
"I'll certainly spend more time with my family and I may even help them out coaching a little because I've already had people talk to me about it, but I'm not sure how that will go," he said with a chuckle. "I'll have plenty to do."
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