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New AD brings experience, enthusiasm

Having spent years on the sidelines for Estacada High School, Bonnie Erickson is ready to face the challenges ahead
by: Jeff Spiegel Bonnie Erickson brings 23 years of coaching experience and 15 years of teaching experience to a position that has seen a lot of turnover in the past six years

Estacada High School's new athletic director, Bonnie Erickson, is ready for anything. After 23 years of coaching kids and adults throughout the area, Erickson has finally made the natural step to heading up the athletic department, where she is poised to continue the development of successful programs at Estacada High School.

Erickson was a three-sport athlete in high school - basketball, cross country and track. After high school she attended Eastern Washington University, where she continued her cross-country career and competed in the heptathlon.

Graduating with a degree in physical education, she moved on to Lewis and Clark, where she earned her master's degree in educational administration with endorsements in physical education, health and sports medicine. She also has earned national certifications as an athletic trainer and a strength and conditioning specialist.

Halfway through the 1997-98 school year, Erickson got an offer to begin teaching at Estacada Junior High School, where she spent seven years including two years as the vice principal. She was then brought up to the high school, where she re-entered the classroom as a teacher for three years before returning to the administration side of the operation. Now, in her eighth year at the high school, Erickson has assumed the position of athletic director.

'In a small town like this, athletics are such a focal point. So I am expecting the kids out here to be high-quality representatives of our school both in the classroom and behaviorally,' she said.

As a former track and cross country coach at the high school, Erickson has the added benefit of knowing the system, the coaches and many of the students within the program. That being said, the job will have its challenges.

'People who have been in this position over the last six years have done the best they could with what they have, but there has been such a quick turnover that they haven't had the ability to put much time into the position. One of our biggest challenges will be to get the parents, athletes, community and coaches confident in their support from this office,' she said.

Another challenge for Erickson: Being a woman in a male-dominated occupation.

Erickson tells the story of having gone to the state athletic directors' conference for the past two years and realizing the men outnumber the women about 10 to 1. But that hasn't fazed her at all.

'I get really feisty with the whole, 'You're a girl, do you think you can do it?' thing, but I do understand that I'm a girl in a male-dominated profession. As long as I work well for my coaches, and they work well for me, we're going to have a strong program all around,' she said.

Increasing program attendance and building school pride through athletics are her biggest goals.

Over the past few seasons, the number of students coming out for sports has been on the decline. This fall experienced the lowest number of youths participating the coaches have ever seen. What makes this a big problem is that the district is attempting to maintain as many successful programs as possible in the face of overall budget cuts.

'All of our programs are going to have to work hard to keep their kids; otherwise, we're going to lose programs,' she said, 'It's hard to support programs that have such a small number of kids coming out.'