WINLOCK — As of July 1, Nick Bamer is now not only the Winlock boys basketball coach but also the high school’s athletic director.
Winlock School District’s superintendent and the school board decided to hire a full-time athletic director back in January. Most Class 2B and 1B schools in the state only have a part-time athletic director, Bamer said.
“That’s pretty exciting just from a coach’s standpoint at a school like Winlock, to have the leadership team say, ‘Hey, we believe in athletics so much we want to hire someone full-time,’” Bamer said. “We wanted someone to go at it full-time and take on the challenges we might run into. I’m fortunate to be that guy. I’m very, very excited. Our coaches are great coaches, so it’s not like I’ve had to do much other than trying to get everybody on the same page.”
It’s a crucial move and a sign of dedication toward Winlock’s push back to relevancy in a stacked 2B Central League, often one of the top 2B conferences in the state in a variety of boys and girls sports.
Bamer is keeping his role as the boys basketball coach, a job he’s held for the past five years. He led the Cardinals to a 17-7 overall and 8-2 league record for a second-place finish in the C2BL. The Cardinals were ousted in the district playoffs, but not before reeling off a 14-game win streak to cap their best season since Bamer took the helm.
“I’m not firing myself,” Bamer said. “I’ve set the bar pretty high for myself, so hopefully I meet my standards.”
Other sports are also on the rise for the Cardinals in recent years. When Bamer took over five years ago, the boys basketball team and football team each hadn’t won a game in two years. His first two seasons at Winlock, the girls teams in all three seasons combined for less than five wins.
The boys basketball team won four games his first year as coach. The second year they won nine and fell just one game short of regionals. Every year since then they’ve upset an opponent at the district tournament.
The football team went 6-4 and advanced to the district playoffs in the 2019-20 season. The girls basketball team fell one game short of a district playoff appearance. The fastpitch team qualified for the district tournament before falling to eventual state champion Adna.
Bamer has no major changes planned for the athletic program yet. The school has been hosting summer and weight room workouts. One of the first things Bamer did after taking over was open up the baseball field to summer league baseball once Lewis County reached phase three. Rural Baseball Inc., led by Winlock baseball coach Jordan Nailon, has been playing games at the Winlock field the past few weeks with masks on and the bleachers cordoned off.
“It’s fun to get the kids out and get them playing,” Bamer said.
He is most excited about having the opportunity to increase his impact on the athletic programs and the students as a whole, rather than just the basketball players.
“We are on the cusp of turning the corner into something special, across all sports,” Bamer said. “I was just telling our superintendent, ‘There’s a buzz in the air around the school.’”