By Mark Beasley
Bill Mills has been the Minnewaska Activities Director for over 20 years. As the sports reporter for nearly 15 years, I’ve had to work closely with Bill pretty much every week, getting information so I can do my job. Bill has been fantastic to work with, always helpful, easy to get a hold of and prompt with a reply. I wish Bill the very best as he moves on to the next thing when the school year is over. This is the second and final part of the story. Thank you, Bill, for your service to the community. Happy trails!
In looking back over his job as the AD at Minnewaska Area High School, Mills noted, “The job can be a relentless one which requires your availability all year long, seven days a week. There is very little chance to turn off the phone or leave the computer on stand-by. The job can be all consuming, and you learn very quickly to be available nearly all the time.
When asked about a concern he has regarding high school activities today, Bill mentioned that he worries about an overemphasis on 365 day a year athletic programs that don’t allow kids to be kids “Potential burnout for a high school athlete is a real thing. Losing the fun and enjoyment of playing causes participants to leave programs before their senior year. We’ve seen this throughout the country and, although infrequently, right here at Minnewaska Area High School. Their experiences need to be fun. When it stops being fun and enjoyable then there’s a problem. Additionally, kids need some time away to spend with friends and family and to just be a kid. It’s something that I’m definitely concerned about as we move ahead.”
Despite the challenges, Mills said, “I can honestly say, and I know this sounds cliche, there hasn’t been a day throughout my career I’ve not looked forward to coming to work.” The coaches and advisors I’ve worked with over the years have provided outstanding opportunities for our kids, and despite the ups and downs that come with these positions, Minnewaska Area High School is fortunate to have many high quality, caring individuals that oversee these programs to benefit our students.”
It’s a sign of Bill’s love and passion for the job, as well as for Minnewaska Area Schools, that has driven him over the past 35 years, first as a classroom teacher and coach, and for the past two decades as the Community Education and Activities Director.
Throughout his years in activities, Mills has made numerous lifelong friendships. He is impressed with the quality of people he has worked with at ISD 2149. From the many students, certified staff, support staff, as well as administrators, and board members. All have made, and continue to make, important contributions to the district. He’s also enjoyed working with those from other area schools, particularly those of the West Central Conference. He’ll miss those relationships as he steps away from the job in the weeks ahead. “As for those who I’ve worked closest with; my MAHS mentors, the late Jack Stackpool, Wayne Norby and especially Dick Cordes were all extremely helpful when I took over the job. Their guidance was invaluable and very much appreciated. My administrative assistants over the years Marcia Wold, Jennifer Chan, Angie VanZee, Heidi Weller, and currently Carrie Janu have all been incredibly instrumental in the success we’ve had, as well as MAS Business Manager Vicki Moen whose exceptional job over the years with budgeting for activities, and the district as a whole, has been nothing short of outstanding. I’d also like to recognize the Minnewaska Laker Foundation. The progress our activities programs have made are directly linked to their hard work and dedication over the past 15 years in raising funds to allow us to continue to operate at a high level. Under the leadership of former President Rick Ekstrand and current President Karna Peters, their efforts have been, and will continue to be, extremely important not only to activities, but with the recent change in the overall mission of the foundation, to the entire district! I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the support I’ve had over the years from my wife Linda and son Ian. The family of an AD travels down the same road. Having them as part of the journey has been extremely important!”
Mills is happy to leave the post in the capable hands of Phil Johnsrud, who has many of the same career experiences. “Phil bleeds blue and green as much as anyone I know. The job is in excellent hands and I’m excited to see him make his mark on Laker Activities in the years ahead!”
“I’ve really enjoyed my time as an employee for Minnewaska Area Schools. Other than my immediate family, nothing has meant more to me in my life than having had the opportunity to work for ISD 2149 for so many years. I will always be its biggest supporter! GO LAKERS!!”
The state of Minnewaska Area High School athletics and activities is in good shape, thanks to Bill and those who preceded him. Job well done, Bill. Now leave the cell phone behind and enjoy some peace and quiet!