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Kay leaves North for Hermiston

Mike Kay, the director of athletics at North Medford High for the past six years, is heading to Hermiston High to become that school's athletic director and assistant principal.

Kay, 46, will receive a hefty pay raise in his new job but admitted he'll miss his days on the front burner of Black Tornado athletics.

There isn't a community in the state that supports its athletic programs any greater than this one, said Kay, who credited former district athletic director Bruce Howell for establishing model methods and plans at both Medford high schools. The knowledge that I gained here opened doors for me.

Kay is perhaps most proud of this year's North Medford sports teams that are expected to win the Oregonian Cup, a contest among Oregon high schools that measures athletics, academics and sportsmanship. North Medford trailed Sheldon of Eugene in the Class 4A division heading into the spring sports season but the Tornado finished strong as its boys golf and tennis teams took third in state and its boys and girls track teams each claimed seventh. The baseball and softball teams also advanced to the second and third rounds of the state playoffs, respectively.

— Final standings are scheduled for release on June 15. (South Medford was fifth after the winter sports season).

Seeing all those programs across the board do so well is what made my job fun at North, Kay said.

During his first four years at North Medford, Kay coached the girls basketball team, which won a conference title, advanced to the state playoffs each season and, in 1998, finished fifth at the 4A state tournament.

Prior to his stint at North Medford, Kay spent seven years as the girls basketball coach at Mazama. His teams there won five conference titles.

In his new job at Hermiston, Kay will overlook gyms and fields, help hire new coaches, work with community organizations that use the school and evaluate teachers.

Hermiston is located 30 miles west of Pendleton along Interstate 84 and near the Columbia River. The school competes in the Intermountain Conference with the Bend schools (Summit, Mountain View and Bend), Pendleton, Hood River Valley, Redmond and Crook County.

It's a growing community and the booster club is very active, Kay said.

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail