MAYVILLE | Joel Wondra, the athletic director at Mayville High School, has been busy the last couple of weeks with the prep football program.
After former head coach Mark Pankow left the program on Aug. 14 and resigned on Aug. 20, Wondra named Adam Clayton and Martin “Chip” Parmer as co-head coaches in the interim.
But then following last Friday’s game against Campbellsport, Clayton announced he would be resigning to take a special education teacher position in the Sun Prairie School District – a move that became official on Monday.
“Purely out of family stuff,” Clayton said of his reason. “I was spending 20-25 hours grading and lesson planning at Mayville. (At Sun Prairie) I will be able to spend more time with my family.”
Clayton started his teaching career as an educational assistant in Sun Prairie before moving to Mayville as a social studies teacher.
Once Wondra knew Clayton was leaving, he began the search for a new head coach – passing on making Farmer head coach because this is Farmer’s first year coaching and Wondra wanted a more experienced coach at the helm.
On Saturday, Wondra found his guy in Mark McCormick – who has an impressive resume spanning almost 30 years, including a successful postseason run in the mid-2000s at Winnebago Lutheran Academy.
“I think coach McCormick is going to bring a clear vision and some stability to our football program, which is desperately needed,” Wondra said. “In the short time that I’ve had to become familiar with him and chat with him, he’s a man who understands football.
“He understands how to teach young kids. He has an air of confidence about him that is impressive.”
On Saturday, Wondra had a brief chat with McCormick and by Sunday the new football coach was introduced to the assistant coaches and already game planning for today’s game against Prairie du Chien.
It came as a surprise to McCormick, because this time last week he wasn’t thinking about football at all.
“That’s something I’m going to be looking back on for years,” McCormick said. “I’m just kind of still raising my eyebrows and chuckling and rolling my eyes because that was one of the most (bizarre events). It’s still that way. We’re only three days in and I’m running practices to get ready for a ball game. We’re talking about when the bus leaves and spaghetti dinners (Thursday) night. It’s like wow!
“I want to say it was surreal, but at the same time it also felt quite right.”
Meantime, Farmer is still on the staff.
“We think very highly of Chip and we think he’s a great man to be working around our young men, but he’s brand new to coaching,” Wondra said. “We thought the combination of Adam and Chip was good … (but) I don’t think Chip was really prepared to coach a team from an Xs and Os standpoint at this point.
“So given that lack of experience and that he’s just started out in his coaching career, we felt we needed someone who knew football and had experience coaching football.”
McCormick has plenty – and not just in football, either; he’s also coached boys and girls basketball, track and field, and volleyball.
His first coaching job was in Minnesota just out of college in 1987, then in 1988 he moved to Wisconsin to play minor league football for the Milwaukee Express.
McCormick was an assistant coach for football and track and field at Winnebago Lutheran from 1995-2001, and was named the head football coach in 2002. He held that position until 2007.
When Ripon won the Division 4 state title in 2003, the Tigers defeated McCormick’s Tigers in the state quarterfinals. And WLA made the playoffs in four of McCormick’s six years, with a 3-4 record in those postseason games.
That’s the kind of success Wondra hopes McCormick can bring to Mayville (which is sixth all-time in state history with 514 wins) once again.
Wondra wouldn’t commit to saying this was a permanent situation, though.
“I think we were clear at the beginning that initially this was going to be a leadership for this season that we will evaluate at the end of the season and determine what our next step is,” Wondra said. “I sense from him that he has an interest in staying here long term. In an effort to sort of sell him on taking the position, I mentioned to him if we opt to go do a full scale search you’re the only person who gets a full tryout (this year).
“We haven’t’ made a commitment beyond this year, but we will see how this goes.”
The situation is something McCormick understood and is OK with.
“I think the community and the administration will know by the end of the season, what they think of me,” McCormick said. “I think I will know what I think of the situation. I think we will both be on the same page. I think it will take care of itself.
“I’m a positive guy. I’m looking for success and I’m looking for a good long relationship. I know they would like to find a coach that they can count on long term, they like and that they’re happy with.
“If it’s me then they’re going to want me to stay around. I’ll feel that way too.”