On a sunny August day, Mike Colbrese was sitting on his porch in Bellevue with his wife Jan, and he had a realization.
“I don’t have anything to do,” he said. “I can just sit here.”
It’s a realization that’s likely hit the majority of retirees early in their transition from busy work schedules.
Colbrese’s transition means the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association is also in transition.
August is the month that Colbrese, who been executive director since 1993, steps aside and Mick Hoffman moves into his Renton office.
For Colbrese, that transition will include the typical activities for the retired: a little more travel, a little more time with the grandkids.
For Hoffman, the transition is a bit more laborious.
He takes over a WIAA that also has two new assistant executive directors. John Miller announced his retirement at the beginning of summer, and Brian Smith became the athletic director for the Kent School District.
B.J. Kuntz, who played volleyball at Gonzaga, comes to the WIAA after a long career in Wenatchee. Justin Kesterson, who was the athletic director at Tyee, is the other new assistant executive director.
Colbrese had relatively little turnover in recent years in building a “great staff.” Colbrese and Hoffman like to point out that the WIAA has one of the smaller staffs (12), especially in comparison with the number of schools it oversees, of any state association in the nation.
Among other WIAA accomplishments Colbrese points to with pride: become national leaders in concussion safety and transgender rights, adding RPI to state basketball and reworking how classifications are decided.
“Mike has done some amazing work in 26 years with health and safety leading this organization,” Hoffman said.
As he leaves the WIAA, Colbrese knows there’s a major issue that the WIAA’s new leadership will have to deal with: declining attendance at state tournaments and what that means for which venues the organization can afford to hold them in.
Earlier this summer, the WIAA announced it would no longer hold the state football championship games at the Tacoma Dome, citing rising costs and lower revenue.
Hoffman said it was time to “a hard look” at which activities are drawing participation. He points out the majority of secondary students participate in activities other than athletics. Other activities, such as Esports, could be worth a look.
Hoffman, who enjoys playing golf and poker, has spent nearly three decades working in education, from teaching to coaching to administration. Before taking the job at the WIAA, he was the assistant superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools. Education is the family business. His wife, Tammi, is an elementary teacher. His two children also work in education.
And he’s called his new post a dream job.
“We’re in the memory-making business,” said Hoffman, who still spends his weekends in Vancouver. “There’s not very many jobs you can touch the heart of so many kids as you can through activities.”