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Mike Brown returns to lead Turlock High athletics
Mike Brown
Mike Brown is once again Turlock High's Athletics Director.

A familiar face is back at the helm for the Turlock High School athletics department, as Mike Brown has returned to the position of athletic director.

Brown, a mathematics teacher for 33 years and counting at Turlock High, first served as athletic director from 2016 to 2020 before stepping down due to the uncertainty surrounding sporting events as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded. He decided to return after his successor Colin Wenstrand stepped down this summer to lead the Bulldogs’ girls tennis team following the retirement of longtime coach Linda Bejaran.

Prior to his first stint as athletic director, Brown was the school’s track and field coach for 20 years, an experience that showed him the importance of having a good leader in the athletic department.

“I coached for years, and I know how hard it is to coach. I really feel like my job as an athletic director is take care of my coaches. My job is to help them out as much as they can and make their job easier, not harder. I’ve been through it, so that's one of the biggest things,” he said.

Brown also expressed the importance of good relationships between athletic directors and school principals. When several colleagues vouched for new principal David Kline, it made the decision easier, though he described his relationship with former principal Gabe Ontiveros as great.

“When a new principal comes in, sometimes you don’t know what to expect,” Brown explained. “When Gabe moved to different schools and they said they were bringing in somebody else, and then the athletic director position came up, I had to do a little research on him. I knew Dave Kline was from Oakdale, I knew that he was a guy that had a lot to do with athletics, and so when people were pushing me to come back here, I said, ‘You know what? I think I will.’”

The fact that Brown never stopped teaching math at Turlock High has also made the transition smoother.

“I’ve just been teaching,” he said. “I had all my math classes still, and so the transition back has been really good. I already had all my stuff organized.”

Some of the things Brown is looking forward to in his second stint is to see the sports of boys volleyball and girls flag football grow in the region.

“It’s pretty exciting to see all that happening,” he said. “It’s fun to see boys volleyball gain steam, and I’m really interested to see what flag football looks like, because I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet. And there’s a lot of rules and technicalities with it, so I still need to learn all that, but it’s interesting to see this gain steam.”

As for the rest of the sports at Turlock High, Brown expressed pride and confidence in his coaches and how they have been able to produce good results and help student athletes make the jump to the next level.

“Coaching is hard, and they are passionate, that’s for sure,” he said. “When you talk about all these athletes at the next level, climbing up, it doesn’t just happen. That’s a lot of dedication and discipline, and it starts with the coaches.

“…I like being out there with the coaches and the student athletes, so it’s good to be back.”