Purple and gold runs deep for new AD

Nicolette “Nicki” Luper, Oak Harbor High School’s new athletic director, brings an impressive set of coaching and administrative credentials to her new position.

The former assistant principal/athletic director at Sultan High School from 2000 through 2006 was selected from a list of 10 applicants to fill the vacant position when former athletic director Bob Smithson retired.

“We had 10 people apply for the position and from that number we interviewed five,” said Joe Hunt, Oak Harbor School District information director. “The five were interviewed by coaches, school administrators and at least one or two parents. It was a large group.”

Hunt said the five candidates were trimmed to several finalists who were then interviewed by the high school principal, who is the athletic director’s immediate supervisor, and Luper was offered the position.

Luper has coaching as well as administrative experience and earned a master’s degree in education administration with an emphasis on athletic administration from Washington State University in 1999.

A 1986 graduate of the University of Idaho with a bachelor of science degree and a standard secondary teaching certificate, she majored in physical education and minored in health education in college.

Luper was a substitute teacher in Clark County, Wash., and Lewiston, Idaho, for two years and then taught secondary physical education and health education at Washougal High School from 1988 to 2000. During that time, she was the head volleyball coach for six years and the head basketball coach for three years at the school.

Also during that time frame, she was an assistant track and field coach at Camas High School, Ridgefield High School, Clark Community College in Vancouver, Wash., and also at Washougal.

Before she began her teaching career in Washington, Luper was an assistant track coach at Lewiston Senior High School in Lewiston, Idaho, in 1987.

She became a certified athletic administrator through the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association and while at Sultan High School, she served for four years on WIAA Northwest District 1 committees.

For the past two years, Luper was a representative for the Cascade Conference on the District 1 executive board and was chosen as the Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year by the Cascade Conference. She was also recognized by the Cascade Conference as a WASA Distinguished Assistant Principal in 2006.

“I’m very excited about coming here to Oak Harbor and having the opportunity to do something I love to do — being around kids and athletics,” she said.

Coming from class 2A Sultan High School, Luper said there will be some differences being an athletic director at a class 4A school.

“At Oak Harbor, there are more programs, more kids and I think more expectations,” she said. “Being competitive is one of the big challenges. The league we are in is a tough one.”

Luper said whether it’s a class 2A or a class 4A school, some of the expectations are the same.

“What we have to do is provide positive opportunities for students and bring something to our community it can be proud of,” she said. “The athletic facilities we have here at Oak Harbor are tremendous.”

Luper said when she heard Oak Harbor’s school colors were purple and gold, she discovered those colors were the same ones as her former high school in Lewiston, Idaho.

“We were the Bengals in high school and the Wildcats here and I said to myself, ‘Sure, I can wear the purple and gold again’”.

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