Nick Mullen’s career ambitions in high school education always included going into administration.
At age 39, Mullen has his wish as he will be Timberline High School’s new athletic director effective July 1, but it comes at a price. He’s no longer the Blazers’ football coach.
Mullen’s eight-year tenure as the Blazers’ coach is over, following his resignation, as he will replace the soon-to-be retired Pat Geiger. Geiger is retiring after 40 years in North Thurston Public Schools and the past 33 years at Timberline. Mullen also will continue to teach English at the school.
It’s Mullen’s first athletic director job. Hired by Timberline in 2007 after three seasons as a defensive coordinator at Franklin Pierce, Mullen went 53-31 in his first head-coaching job.
Mullen said the decision to step away from coaching football was one of the hardest decisions he’s made, but while not closing the door on coaching again, becoming an administrator was an opportunity he couldn't pass up. After impacting more than 100 football players annually, he’ll now impact close to 800 student athletes.
“I’m in a leadership position I’ve wanted to try to have,” Mullen said. “I love working with kids and it’s a different role. It’s another way to be a coach.”
Given that spring practices begin in two weeks, Geiger said school officials looked at possibly keeping Mullen as football coach for 2015 and opening up the football coaching job in 2016, but concerns were addressed given the immediate learning curve for Mullen as a first-time athletic director trying to juggle coaching, teaching and administrative duties.
“If he coached a sport in the spring, then that might have been more of a possibility,” Geiger said.
Another option, Geiger said, is naming an interim coach for the fall. In-building teaching also positions are available, Geiger added.
Mullen said a couple of assistant coaches on his staff have expressed interest in applying for the head-coaching vacancy.