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Dublin High School’s Mark Wainwright Wins 2012 NCS Honor Coach Award

February 28, 2012

Mark Wainwright

Mark Wainwright, the Dublin High School Lady Gaels Basketball Coach, recently added to Dublin High’s string of good news by winning the 2012 North Coast Section (NCS) Honor Coach. Mark Wainwright, an English teacher at Dublin High School, attained his B.A in English from the University of California, Berkeley. Subsequently, he completed both a Single Subject Credential and an Administrative Credential from California State University, Hayward (now CSU East Bay).

Mark didn’t waste any time getting started with his life, combining his passion for athletics and academic background into a full-time career. He admits that he was a decent high school athlete, but also recognized that athletics would only take him so far, so he pursued his professional life with the goal of adhering to both endeavors. Initially, Mark was hired at St. John Catholic School in San Lorenzo. What he could not know at the time was that this would be the launching point of 33 years of teaching and coaching athletics. Mark’s been married to Mary Jo since 1981 and his daughter, Samantha, is presently an English teacher at Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward. In 1996, Mark joined the faculty at Dublin High School as an English teacher and athletic coach for various sports.

In recognition of Mark’s success and contributions, he was recently chosen to receive the 2012 North Coast Section (NCS) Honor Coach Award for Varsity Girls’ Basketball. NCS is part of the California Interscholastic Federation and represents the eastern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area. This award is a prestigious honor selected from coaches representing 165 schools. Throughout his career, Mark has coached baseball, softball, boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball. The Lady Gaels captured the 2009 DFAL League Championship and finished this year with an 18-9 record. recently had the opportunity to sit down with Coach Wainwright to discuss both the recent NCS honor and his career as an educator. For those who have not met him, Mark is a stately figure, is very self-deprecating and is has a dry wit. While his fire burns brightly when it comes to athletics, he is also a very thoughtful and introspective individual. He speaks very plainly and treats his students as if they were his own. We are pleased to share this profile. For a career that has spanned over +30 years, we are sure that you’ve encountered some amazing athletes. Please share.

Mark Wainwright: “One of my great experiences was coaching at Encinal High School in Alameda. It was a school filled with tough kids in a very ‘blue collar’ neighborhood. I had the good fortune to work with a great athlete named Jimmy Rollins. He was a multi-sport athlete and he was my point guard on the varsity basketball team. Jimmy chose baseball as his profession and he is now entering his 13th year in Major League Baseball. Mr. Rollins won a World Series Championship with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 and he was awarded the National League Most Valuable Player in 2007 as a Shortstop. Remarkable.” Realistically, all of your experiences as a coach have not come without challenges. Please explain.

Wainwright: “For sure. I’ve had times with students/athletes at different schools when they are feeling like that they need more. Like, I need to get mine,  that I need to get my props at the expense of the team. It demonstrates that everyone has their own needs that may not mesh with our team goals.” Presently you teach five sections of English to 9th and 12th graders. What are you trying to impart to all of your students – athletes and alike?

Wainwright: “I need my students to be very well read, to be able to write, to be able to think and for them to be able to connect with others. We are in a sink or swim society. The simple act of reading is an exercise for the mind. All of my students know where I’m coming from. We are all striving for excellence.” Getting back to your basketball team for a moment, how would you characterize this group?

Wainwright: “It’s probably the most balanced team that I’ve had. These ladies are respectful and are well-behaved. They push themselves very hard and are classy whether in victory or defeat. While they are polite, they play with a fury while on the court.” While much of society is conditioned to measure success with wins vs. losses, how do you measure success for your program and how do you help your athletes keep it all in perspective as they move forward in life?

Wainwright: Sports are emotional. One can be buoyed up by a win and one can also wallow in defeat. Winning can keep you on a high for days and a tough loss can have a lasting after effect. My message to all of my athletes is that life will deal you blows. The important thing is how will you respond to these challenges? How will you respond to this situation and make it better? No one in this life will feel sorry for you. Make the adjustment and make it better.” Can you cite a specific example this year?

Wainwright: “Earlier in the season, our team was decimated with injuries and other issues. During a tough loss, I lit into my team at halftime pretty well. I asked of them, will we just lilt or will we fight back? I specifically turned to our team captain, Shannon Irwin. Would our team just lay down or would we dig deep? I can tell you that over my entire coaching career, Ms. Irwin is the greatest player that I’ve ever coached. If you combine her basketball skills, heady play and leadership – she’s the best.” Back to your upcoming honor, do you know who nominated you and what does this mean to you?

Wainwright: For the nomination, I have no idea. For the honor, I’m simply happy that someone noticed. I haven’t compiled the greatest record. In fact, I probably have more second place finishes than anyone else. I’ve borrowed from a lot of other coaches. But, I’m happy that I’ve placed my own imprint on this program. I must say that at the end of every year, I’m left with the same questions. Did I do everything to extract everything from my team because we were that good? Or, did we overachieve and was it a great coaching job?” Last question. We can’t resist. What is your take on the phenomenon of Jeremy Lin or “Linsanity?”

Wainwright: “Wow. There is so much that is wrong with professional sports. It largely has to do with the money, the indifferent attitudes and a sense of entitlement. This is why athletes like Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow are embraced. As average fans, we’ve lost the ability to relate with many of these people. I feel that if we could sit back with people like Lin, like regular people, we’d enjoy the commonality. What I like most about Lin is the sense of him being sincerely humble about his entire experience and being grateful for all that has come his way.”

Dublin High senior Shannon Irwin - 2012 DFAL MVP for Girls Basketball (with Mark and Principal Shimizu)

Dublin High School Gaels Sports Complex

  1. Tom l permalink
    March 2, 2012 8:06 am


    Congratulations on this award, sounds like you have done a great job!

    Tom L.


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