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Sports Q&A with West Ranch Principal Mark Crawford

This is part 1 of 2 in The Signal's conversations with the new Foothill League principals

Posted: July 18, 2014 10:00 p.m.
Updated: July 18, 2014 10:00 p.m.

West Ranch High School principal Mark Crawford officially took over as the school's second principal on July 1, following Bob Vincent. Crawford has a background in coaching sports and overseeing athletic programs.

 

Mark Crawford doesn’t want to be labeled “the athletic principal” at West Ranch High School, but his background speaks for itself when it comes to his love of sports.

Crawford, 43, officially took over as West Ranch’s second-ever principal on July 1, succeeding Bob Vincent.

He’s yet to even finish fully setting up his office, but as a former sports broadcaster and a longtime coach, there’s no questioning Crawford’s love of sports and his understanding of its role on campus.

Most recently, he was the principal at Sierra Vista Junior High and had been since 2009.

Before that, nearly every job he’s held has had an athletic aspect to it in some form.

He coached in the baseball program at Hart High from 1999 until 2003 while he taught at the school. After that, he took on a more widespread role as Hart’s assistant principal overseeing athletics.

He studied radio and television as an undergraduate at San Diego State, and he spent a few years as a play-by-play announcer for a minor league baseball team in Central California.

He later returned to school, earned his teaching credential at Arizona State University and went on to complete two master’s degrees.

Crawford played football and baseball since a young age and throughout high school. He has two daughters, ages 9 and 12, who are heavily into soccer.

This is his first high school principal job, but certainly not his first foray into overseeing an athletic program in some form.

Q: What is your overall philosophy with sports at West Ranch?

A: Athletics is a passion of mine and I think, in regards to a school, it can bring immense amounts of pride of being involved in your school and being proud of your school, and I think it’s an important part of the fabric of a high school. With that in mind and with my background in coaching, I want to have a strong athletic program, but at the same time, we hire the coaches to coach and so obviously I’m going to empower them to run a program and build a program as they want to.

I want to win. There’s no doubt. But I want to make sure we do it with class and we do it the right way. Something we’re proud of, that our students can be proud of, that our parents and community can be proud of. That’s the No. 1 goal.

Q: How hands-on do you plan on being with coaches and individual athletic programs?

A: I don’t want to be looking over their shoulder all the time. I just want to get a sense of where they see the program going, what are their goals? What do they want out of each season? I want to be able to support that and support them in achieving those goals of the program and from each athlete and each student that we have.

Again, we want this to be a positive experience for them. Sports is there to enrich the high school experience. It’s by no means the No. 1 thing. That’s the education part and where we want them to go with their lives later on. But athletics can be such an integral part of that.

And we all know that a small percentage of the kids that we have in any of our programs, any of our schools, go on to college and then further than that even. But we know they can take from the athletic experience the idea of working with a team, the idea of setting a goal and reaching it, the idea of hard work and sometimes sacrificing other social activities. And just those skills and ideas that they instill are great.

Q: What are some of the major issues athletically that you want to address at the school?

A: I think the things that were already in place that Principal Vincent and the different folks that were here in athletics worked on, I want to continue those and look to any place we can improve. Anybody that comes in new wants to come in and, “Hey, what’s the past practice, how we can improve on that? What are some areas, from athletic facilities to what we can offer our students to the program themselves, how can we improve?

That’s not to say someone didn’t do a good job, but anytime you would come in, you want to say, “OK, things are going well. How do we get to that next step? If we’ve been league champions, how do we look at becoming CIF champions? If we’re finishing second or third in league, how do we win league?” It’s just incremental steps to see where can we go?

Q: In the past, West Ranch hasn’t had any major controversies or problems with athletic programs. How do you maintain that?

A: There hasn’t been a lot of issues here and I want to make sure it continues that way, but I think the way that happens is good communication and having people on the ground from the coaches to the athletic director and athletic administrator working together before issues even get to my office.

Q: West Ranch was the first school in a long time in this valley to add lacrosse as an official sport. Are you open to the idea of adding other sports in the future, including wrestling?

A: Right now lacrosse is a self-funded sport. In other words, all the support comes from the booster club and they have the ability to do it. So you always want to be open to new things, but you also have to keep in mind the effect that sport might have financially. Obviously when you look at something, it would be great to come in and yeah, we have money to support it this year, but then what’s going to happen years after that. You want it to be a program.

Part 2 will run in Monday’s paper with an interview with Valencia High’s new principal John Costanzo.

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