Employee Spotlight: Mark Wilkerson
Mark Wilkerson is a coach and trainer who has dedicated much of his life to playing and coaching basketball. Mark began coaching after an athletic career that included playing football for Central Washington University and basketball for Tacoma Community College. He has spent over 15 years coaching and working with young athletes, including running basketball camps, skills clinics and personal training.
MAC: You’ve spent a pretty large portion of your life on and around the basketball court. What led you to get involved with basketball initially?
Mark: I’ve been involved with basketball since fifth grade. Football was definitely my first love, and I started asking to play in the third grade, but my mom was like, “Nuh-uh!”, so I took up basketball to bridge the gap until she would let me play. Once I started playing basketball I fell in love with that too. As far as coaching, I started off doing basketball camps as a counselor in high school. I enjoyed it and I’ve always had a good relationship with kids, so it just happened naturally.
MAC: You’ve been teaching and coaching kids for a long time. Is that one of the aspects your work you really enjoy?
Mark: Oh definitely! I like to apply what I’m teaching on the court to real life situations. There are tons of life lessons in sports: I really push accountability and hard work; team work — cooperating and competing together and making each other better; taking chances and not being afraid to make a mistake, because mistakes are going to happen and that’s how you learn; Respect… all that good stuff!
MAC: What is your favorite part of the job?
Mark: First off, helping people. But it’s also about making the connections with them. I’ve trained a some of these kids for a couple years now and it’s fun watching them grow up and improve as players and as people.
MAC: You’ve been doing some hoops-related traveling this summer. Where did you end up visiting?
Mark: I went out to Spokane for Hoopfest to support some of the kids I train. It’s the biggest 3-on-3 tournament in the world, so it was great to watch them play and meet people out there. I travelled out to Boston with Chris Hyppa and his program “Chris Hyppa Basketball”, to train a high school team in their gym for a week, and while we were out there we ended up coaching another 6th grade through 8th grade select team. It was my first trip out to Boston, and we really learned a lot out there. The last five years or so, we’ve gone down to San Diego to coach some high school kids at the University of San Diego, and that’s always fun.
MAC: It sounds like you’ve taken your coaching career national! What keeps bringing you back to the MAC?
Mark: The quality of the kids at the gym speaks to the type of community is at the MAC, which I want to be a part of. They are really coachable and passionate about learning and getting better. But through my personal experiences in life, I want to be able to give back and share with my players and community the experience I’ve encountered and the things I’ve learned from my own adversity.
MAC: One last question: can you fix my busted jump shot?
Mark: (Laughs) I feel like I could help anybody, so yeah!