Neah-Kah-Nie School District announced that Coach Mike Wantland recently received the Oregon Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, Lifetime Merit Award. Neah-Kah-Nie expressed congratulations to Wantland via social media Wednesday, Jan. 22, calling him an incredible volunteer, coach, mentor, motivator and after school snack provider.
Wantland is an assistant coach at Neah-Kah-Nie High School for both baseball and the girls’ basketball teams. He also coaches strength and conditioning for volleyball. He will be coaching a unified basketball tournament on Saturday, Feb. 1, in Tillamook.
Wantland raised his family in Tigard. He coached baseball at Portland State University and in various high schools in the greater Portland area, including Tigard High School. He has been coaching for 30 years.
His kids grew up and Wantland decided to leave the metro area. He was headed to Arizona when he made a stop in Rockaway Beach. He hasn’t left the Oregon coast since.
The Northwest Baseball Coaches Association had their Annual Coaches Convention Jan. 17-19 in Portland. Presenters share ideas, drills, approaches, styles, processes and techniques in an interactive learning environment. It is also a great place for coaches to network, hold meetings and recognize those individuals and teams that are having extraordinary success in the game.
It was at this convention that Wantland received the Oregon Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, Lifetime Merit Award. Wantland said people who know him would say that he would never go to receive the award. He does not do things to get recognized. He said receiving this award was an “extreme honor.”
Neah-Kah-Nie Head Baseball Coach Rob Herder presented him with the award. Wantland said he never looked into what the award entailed but was overwhelmed by it and humbled by the experience.
Wantland has known Herder for over 30 years. They started coaching around the same time and were arch rivals. He said Herder was his least favorite person because he would beat him most of the time. When he moved to Rockaway Beach, he drove past Neah-Kah-Nie High School and saw Herder on the field. Wantland became an assistant coach.
“Rob is an incredible person to work with,” Wantland said.
Wantland coaches fourth and fifth graders in the summer. Wantland said he has a special place in his heart for foster kids. He reunites foster kids that been split up from each other through a week-long visit at Camp Magruder.
“Kids don’t get to pick their parents,” Wantland said.
Wantland makes a positive impact on the children he works with, both in the camp and a Neah-Kah-Nie. Students and staff of Neah-Kah-Nie said they have such respect and gratitude for his work with them.