Jeff Erdman will step down in the spring. In his 14 seasons at the helm, he helped build Clackamas High School athletics into one of the top high school athletic programs in the state

by: JOHN DENNY - Clackamas athletic director Jeff Erdman shares memories with multi-sport senior athletes Cade Wilkins (left) and Taylor Stinson (right), and his daughter Shelby, as he prepares to step down after 14 seasons as Clackamas High School athletic director.Longtime Clackamas High School athletic director Jeff Erdman will be hanging it up as athletic director in the spring.

“I retired on Sept. 30 [of 2013],” said Erdman, who turned 55 in December. “It’s time for me to do something else after 33 years [of being involved with high school athletics].... I am going to do something else. I’m not going to sit around.”

Erdman, who took over as athletic director at Clackamas beginning with the 2000-2001 school year, says that cuts in Public Employees Retirement System retirement benefits, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2014, played a part in his decision to retire. He has an eight-month contract with the North Clackamas School District through spring of this year to serve as interim athletic director at Clackamas High School, until the district finds a replacement.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have worked in a job that I love,” Erdman said. “My wife says I always get up and whistle when I’m on my way to work. I do love my job and every single day I do look forward to going to work. But it seems like the right time. Better to do it now, when I still enjoy it, than wait until I become a tired, disgruntled athletic director. It’s time for new blood.”

Erdman says he will not miss the long hours. On Fridays in the fall he’d arrive at work at 7 a.m. and head for home at around 10:30 p.m., after closing up after football games. On soccer game days it was often 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Except for July 4 through August 1, when he took his vacation, Erdman has worked pretty much the year around. One year — between fall football and winter basketball — he says he worked 21 straight Friday nights.

The license plate on Erdman’s automobile reads, “Go Cavs.”

“It’s been my life,” Erdman says. “I want to especially thank my wife and children, because without their support, it would not have been possible.”

Erdman also gives thanks to his coaches, student-athletes, teachers, administrators, Three Rivers League athletic directors and the Clackamas community.

He offered special thanks to athletic secretary Laurie Winkler: “This is Laurie’s twelfth year and she lives and breathes Clackamas athletics. I could not have done it without her.”

“It’s been a wonderful place to work and an amazing place to raise a family,” Erdman said of the Clackamas area, where his family has resided since 1988.

Erdman says his motto as Clackamas High athletic director has been “Team Clackamas.”

“At Clackamas we strive to have all of our coaches and sports programs work together and in support of one another....,” Erdman says.

One of the things he is most proud of is the fact that Clackamas has been ranked in the top 10 in the Oregonian Cup rankings for 10 consecutive years, earning a second-in-the-state ranking in 2004, 2009 and 2011.

“We were the top public school in the rankings in 2009 and 2011,” he says.

The Oregonian Cup ranks schools based on three criteria: success in the win-loss column, GPA’s of varsity athletes, and sportsmanship.

Clackamas teams have had plenty of success in the win-loss column during Erdman’s tenure. In baseball, the Cavaliers won state titles in 2008 and 2010 and placed second in 2013.

The Clackamas Cavalettes dance team won state titles in 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2013, and they placed second in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2010.

Clackamas cheerleaders were state champions in 2010 and state runners-up in 2007, 2009 and 2012.

Clackamas was state runner-up in girls basketball in 2011 and the Cavaliers were third in the state in boys basketball in 2003.

The Cavaliers were state semifinalists in football in 2002 and 2003.

Clackamas’ girls soccer team was state runner-up in 2012 and the boys soccer team made the semifinals in 2012.

Clackamas volleyball teams placed third in 2012, fourth in 2013 and fifth in 2011; and they have been league champions or co-champions the last four years in a row.

Clackamas softball teams made the semifinals in 2001 and 2012.

Erdman says that two of his major goals as Clackamas High School athletic director were: “I want our teams, coaches and student athletes to strive for excellence, in the classroom as well and on the athletic field, and I want the maximum number of students participating [in athletics and activities].”

He says that 40 percent of Clackamas High students participate in athletics at some time during the school year and, “if you include activities such as band, orchestra, speech, choir, cheer and dance, it’s a much higher number.”

Erdman says he is proud that “we kept all of our sports during the economic downturn. We have not lost a sport at Clackamas in my 14 years.”

Erdman added an intramural basketball program nine years ago, which has 120 boys and girls participating today.

Erdman has been instrumental in the improvement and expansion of facilities at Clackamas. During his tenure, the grass turf on the football stadium field was replaced by artificial turf, visitors’ seating was expanded at the stadium, the “Big House” hitting facility was added for baseball and softball, baseball got an artificial turf infield, and the high school weight room was expanded threefold.

“I was one of the leading proponents for artificial turf [for the football field],” said Erdman. “And it’s been a boon to our community, used by youth and high school teams for practices and games, the marching band, physical education classes.... It’s increased the usage of the facility fourteen times. With grass, it sat idle most of the year.”

Before Clackamas, Erdman was a teacher and coach at his high school alma mater, Madison, for 16 years, and at Cleveland for two years. He was athletic director at Putnam for one year, before the job opened up at Clackamas High School. He was a student teacher at Lakeridge, where he assisted Tom Smythe, and one of his players was longtime area coach Mike Fanger.

Erdman’s Madison High School baseball teams were quite successful, winning six league championships, advancing to the state playoffs every year, and winning the state championship in 1997.

Erdman has received a number of honors as athlete, coach and administrator. He was named Three Rivers League Athletic Director of the Year in 2008 and 2009 and Oregon Class 6A Athletic Director of the Year in 2009.

He’s been inducted into the PIL Hall of Fame, both as a player and a coach. He’s been inducted into the Oregon High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, and he received the lifetime achievement award from Lewis & Clark College in 2006.

Erdman says that one of the main reasons he switched from coach to athletic director was: “As an athletic director you become coach of coaches instead of coach of kids and you can impact 500 to 600 kids, instead of just a handful.”

“I’m going to miss it,” Erdman said. “All the people, the students, coaches, teachers, parents and the community. I love my job. I love everything about it, and I’m going to miss it....

“One of the greatest joys of my job is watching young people come in as freshmen and seeing them grow and mature — doing what I can to help mold them so that by the time they are seniors they have matured into outstanding young men and women, prepared to go out into the world and make a difference.”

Erdman will be no stranger to Clackamas High School after he retires. His daughter Shelby is a sophomore and she competes in soccer and in track and field.

And he says he will likely continue to be involved in sports or athletics, as he pursues a second career.

“I’m currently working part-time with [Putnam athletic director] Danielle Barendse on a venture called ‘Booster Prep Scores,’” Erdman says. “It’s a phone app for schools to download real-time scores to their community. It will be free to schools and the community, paid for by advertising....

“I’ll play some golf, and I’m going to do something, whether it’s Booster Prep Scores or some other business related to athletics or sports. And I will be here at Clackamas to support my daughter....

“My teaching and administrative licenses are current, so substituting is a possibility.... Who knows, in a couple of years I may get back into coaching, helping someone out as an assistant in football, basketball or baseball. It would be fun to coach again. Perhaps I’ll do some tutoring. My wife is a vice-president at U.S. Bank, and when she retires, we’d like to travel. Spend a month in five or six places around the U.S. and see where we might like to live [in retirement].

“I’ll be busy. I am not going to sit around.”

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