Kondo steers athletic department through tough year
On his fourth job after his 2009 official retirement, Mark Kondo is wearing a variety of hats for Quincy High School.
Counselor, girls wrestling coach, and, in the absence of Kaycie Tuttle, associate athletic director.
A former AD at Othello and a member of the state’s wrestling hall of fame, he first bid farewell to his profession in 2009 after health issues had sidelined him for most of the previous year. Since then, he has worked in Othello, Royal City, Ritzville and now Quincy.
“It’s nice to feel that I have built a good reputation where people would want me to come and help out,” Kondo said, adding that he thought he would go do something completely different after leaving the classroom behind.
It didn’t quite work out that way. For starters, he still likes being an educator.
“I enjoy working with the teachers, with staff, with the kids, and whether it’s Quincy or Othello or Royal City or Ritzville, kids are still kids,” said Kondo, who called working around youth “invigorating.”
That, coupled with his love of a good challenge, has steered him in the direction of all these tasks, like when his neighbor (and QHS assistant principal) Mike Carlson approached him and gauged his interest in a position as a counselor at the school last fall.
Then, with Tuttle sidelined with medical problems at the end of the fall, Kondo was asked if he would serve as associate athletic director.
In addition, he helps coach the girls wrestling team, and as a bonus, he gets to hang out with his son Ross Kondo, who teaches at QHS.
“It’s nice to be able to see him around,” the elder Kondo said. “He’s so busy with his family and everything, it’s nice to work with him and see what he does.”
With spring coming around the corner, the elder Kondo will be just as busy, with almost a dozen teams competing for the Jackrabbits.
Quincy, Kondo said, has good people leading the teams and coaching the team, so that makes his job easier. Back when he started as an AD in Othello in the 1990s, the Huskie athletic program had one of the worst reputations in the league, he said.
The job of AD has changed greatly since those days, he said. Technology has made scheduling games easier, although sometimes, little confusions arise. Like on the league’s website, the schedules appear as being revised by Tuttle, not Kondo.
“I use her login,” Kondo said with a smile. “When I took over, it was just easier to just use her username, so I just did that.”
On the other hand, Kondo said he uses his own judgment when making decisions for the athletic program, as opposed to sitting on his desk wondering what his predecessor might have done.
“My job is to assist the coaches and continue to build (the programs),” he said. “Do whatever I can behind the scenes to make things happen.”
He later added, “I have been an AD before, a counselor before. I’m not looking at what other people do.” If he had plans to stay for four or five years he might implement longer-range stuff, but he says that’s not the case.
Kondo said it’s still too early to tell what next year will be like for him. Technically he’s not a full-time counselor at QHS, but as an AD, time at the school has increased.
The ideal situation, Kondo said, would be for Tuttle to come back, “but that’s still up in the air,” he said.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m just trying to help keep things afloat as far as getting through this year,” Kondo said, “and making sure we go in a positive direction both in the counseling and the athletic department.”
He then quipped, “And then next fall, I’ll just play a lot of golf.”
By Sebastian Moraga, firstname.lastname@example.org