Williamson retires

The longtime teacher and coach leaves Milwaukie

MILWAUKIE - Longtime Milwaukie High School educator and coach Dan Williamson has retired from teaching and coaching at Milwaukie High School.

'I don't know if I'm willing to give up teaching completely,' said Williamson, who turns 55 this summer. 'I may sub a little, or my ideal job would be to teach anatomy and physiology for a period or two. That way I could keep doing what I love to do and it wouldn't be like a job.'

And Williamson says he will continue to help out in the wrestling program.

Williamson retired as head wrestling coach at Milwaukie in 2009, after 18 seasons at the helm. His Milwaukie teams compiled a combined 192-100-3 win-loss record in the Three Rivers League. They were district champions in 1987 and also in 1988, when they captured the third-place team trophy at the state tournament.

Williamson taught and coached at Newberg High School for six years, before coming to Milwaukie in the 1985-86 school year.

During his 32 years as an educator, he's taught classes in biology, ecology, algebra, global science, and anatomy and physiology.

'I've taught biology all 32 years,' Williamson said.

He started and wrote the curriculum for Milwaukie High School's honors classes in anatomy and physiology in 2000 and he taught those classes until his retirement this spring.

He's been head tennis coach at Milwaukie for the past five years. During his career he assisted in coaching football 16 seasons.

'Originally I got into teaching so I could coach wrestling,' said Williamson. 'But somewhere along the line, it evened out.

'I grew to understand that the classroom is the main part of your job, and you can influence more and do more as a classroom teacher, than you can coaching….

'Whether you're coaching or teaching, the goal is the same. You preach that hard work pays off….

'I don't believe in watering down the curriculum. Students know they've got to work if they're going to pass my class.

'I've received a lot of emails and cards from formal students, thanking me and telling me that my tests, which were difficult, helped get them through college.'

Williamson is a 1974 graduate of Corbett High School, where he played baseball, was a Shrine football all-star, and was a two-time state collegiate wrestling champion.

He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Portland State University, where he was a mathematics and biology major. He wrestled for the Vikings, earning a championship at the Classic.

Williamson says the high point of his wrestling career has been watching his state champions get their hands raised following the championship finals of state tournaments.

Williamson coached four Mustangs to state collegiate championships: Ellery Mortenson (1987), James Sisson (1988), Nick McDonald (1992) and Jimmy Haman (2007). Mortenson was a Triple Crown winner in 1987; he also earned a state freestyle title in 1986.

Williamson has had four other freestyle champions: Bryan Schiller (1987), Simon White (1992), Chris Strange (1995) and Jason Kribs (1985). Schiller was also a Greco Roman champion in 1987.

McDonald's championship season was especially memorable to Williamson. It was a year in which McDonald was plagued by a bad knee.

'Nick's knee would lock out,' Williamson recalls. 'It locked out during the state final, so we called timeout and Nick said, 'What am I going to do?' I told him to pretend my butt was a volleyball and kick me just like you did when we did kickball in practice. So I bent over and Nick kicked me in the butt. His knee popped in and he went on to win the title.

'I know a lot of people were wondering what was going on out there. But it worked.'

Williamson noted that that solution to unlocking the knee had first come during a regular season practice, when McDonald kicked a ball to get his knee to snap back into alignment.

'I treasure the memory of all the kids who have participated in the state tournament and laid it all on the line, proving hard work pays off,' Williamson says. 'And the kids who have come back to help coach and give back to the sport, they are special to me….'

Asked what he planned to do in retirement, Williamson said, 'I'm thinking of calling up [retired West Linn coach Dave Sanville] and seeing if we could do something together. Maybe a bird identification class. We could get some binoculars and go all over and check out all the birds in the state.'

On a more serious note, Williamson says, 'I would like to spend a long vacation in Alaska and see the wildlife. I would love to watch a grizzly bear pull a fish out of the water…'

Williamson has invited the public to join him in a celebration of his career and retirement from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at Gladstone Church of the Nazarene, 4180 S.E. Jennings Ave.