After guiding Winlock’s boys basketball team for the last seven years, and heading its athletic department since 2020, Nick Bamer has come to the Stone City to become Tenino’s full-time athletic director.
No stranger to starting new jobs in new places, Bamer saw the opportunity for a fresh challenge closer to his home in another close-knit, small-town community, and jumped at the chance.
“They’ve got great coaches and they’ve made great hires,” he said. “Tenino is the place to be. It’s an attractive position for a teacher, a coach, anything. Don’t sleep on Tenino. It’s awesome. We’ve got great facilities. I was really impressed with what they’ve got.”
Though Bamer is excited about the opportunity, he nearly didn’t apply.
The long-time Winlock boys hoops coach, who turned around a struggling program in a short time, had to make a tough decision to leave. Even as the athletic director, the Cardinals football program had one of its most successful years in decades, and the girls hoops team experienced success it hadn’t seen in recent memory.
But the chance to work closer to home, and in Tenino, was too much to pass up. Bamer applied for the Tenino job the day before the final deadline, and from there, the process ramped up quickly with interviews and a decision.
When Bamer took the job, several of his former players reached out to offer congratulations.
“It was a tough decision to even apply to it. I’m pretty loyal to Winlock,” Bamer said. “It’s difficult. We had a great run here as a basketball program. But I have such a great relationship with these players and the community and I know that they will make sure things continue to roll here. Winlock has been awesome to me.”
In Tenino, Bamer won’t coach anymore, which he said will be an adjustment, but it will let him focus on helping other coaches and keeping the momentum rolling for the Beavers’ sports programs.
The girls soccer program is fresh off its most successful three-year stretch in program history, the football team won a state playoff game for the first time in three decades, and the baseball team handed Montesano its first league losses in over 50 tries.
Things are just getting started in Tenino.
“We’re all in it together,” Bamer said. “It’s still a small town. All the coaches support each other. All of your athletes are turning out throughout the seasons. I think that our school has a chance to really make an impact in every sport, every year. There’s no reason we couldn’t.”
Bamer, an Aberdeen graduate, also said he’s excited to compete against Hoquiam again, and hopefully hand the school some losses over the next couple of years.
Working as the full-time athletic director, Bamer said the focus will be to keep the positive momentum rolling forward, give his coaches everything they need to succeed, and keep turnout numbers high.
“We’re trying to get the most kids out possible and eliminate any excuse for them not to participate,” he said. “Athletics is a massive part of the high school experience. You can learn just as much on the field and on the court about life and what it means to be a good person and citizen. So many lessons can come through athletics. We want to get as many kids out as we can and we want to have successful programs.”
On top of that, Bamer also wants to compete for state bids and championships across all of Tenino’s sports.
“We want to win games and we want kids to have the best possible experience they can have,” he said. “We have some great coaches. I’m hoping to keep the momentum going that they’ve already got rolling.”
Bamer started in his new role on July 1.