Mike Hood will join Philomath High School as an assistant principal and athletic director. (Photo provided by Philomath High School)

With a background in athletics and education while preferring to live with his family in a smaller community like Philomath, Mike Hood always had a strong desire to work in the local school system.

Those hopes materialized this week with Philomath High School’s announcement that Hood had been hired as an assistant principal and athletic director.

“We moved down here and I had always hoped to be a part of the school community and always had my eye on the position as athletic director,” Hood said Thursday. “It’s surreal — just that dream becoming a reality.”

Hood will replace outgoing assistant principal and AD Tony Matta, who is headed to South Albany High School.

Hood, 42, has spent the last six years at the middle school level — two years at Seven Oak Middle School in Lebanon and four years in his current job at Cheldelin Middle School in Corvallis.

PHS Principal Mark Henderson said 11 individuals applied for the assistant principal-AD job.

“We looked really at what kind of experience did those 11 applicants have and they really needed to have some athletic background and we really preferred that they have some secondary admin or admin-type experience,” Henderson said.

The applicant pool was narrowed down to a small group for interviews. A hiring panel included Henderson, Dee Dee Collins, assistant principal; Steve Bennett, physical education teacher; David Dunham, language arts teacher; Amanda Bauer, athletics secretary; Ben Silva, girls basketball coach; Joe Fulton, track and field and cross-country coach; and Alex Firth, football coach. There was also a student panel that participated in the interviewing process.

“I was looking to hire an assistant principal first, athletic director second,” Henderson said. “I’ve been an AD for seven or eight years and understand the workload but I also understand it’s completely manageable.”

Hood has a vast background in athletics as a player, coach and administrator. After leading Beaverton High School to the state title in 1998, Hood played two seasons at the College of Southern Idaho and three seasons at UC Irvine.

Hood earned a bachelor’s degree in 2004 at UC Irvine in psychology and social behavior and a master’s degree in 2007 at Portland State in health studies. While on the Portland campus, he transitioned into coaching.

Hood served as a volunteer men’s basketball assistant with the Vikings in 2005-06 and as the director of men’s basketball operations in 2006-07 before a four-year stint as an assistant women’s basketball coach from 2007-11.

Hood’s first six years as an educator were spent at Westside Christian in Tigard where he served as an athletic director and physical education teacher. He coached several sports with the Eagles, including basketball, golf, tennis and volleyball.

Henderson said that with Hood’s background and familiarity with Philomath, he’ll be able to hit the ground running in the position. Hood, his wife and their four children have lived in Philomath for the past seven years.

“He’s a strong family man … he’s self-described and described by his references as being very caring, very student centered,” Henderson said. “He doesn’t get rattled … easygoing, even keel and he’s very ethical and has high integrity. Those are all important.”

Athletics runs deep not only with Hood but also his wife, who played college basketball as Heidi Stuart at Portland State. Their children have been involved in local activities and their oldest, daughter Jordyn, will be a freshman at Philomath High this coming academic year. They also have three sons — Isaiah, Luke and Caleb.

“Our kids have been doing some of the youth sports and things like that and there’s just tremendous community support,” Hood said. “My wife’s family is down here so that’s really what brought us down originally — that and wanting the lifestyle of this for our kids as opposed to being more in a city like up in Beaverton. It’s just icing on the cake that they have amazing sports in this amazing community so I’m really excited to be a part of the school community here.”

Hood was on the Philomath campus Thursday to spend time with Matta and familiarize himself more with the campus.

“Tony has done a great job with all things athletics-related so I’ve got some big shoes to fill there,” Hood said. “I’m excited about the tradition of the athletics here and the community support is huge.”

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.