Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 6:06 PM on Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Coach sees football as classroom for life

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

For 21 years, Camron Wyatt has been coaching football. The last 11 have been as head coach for the Mariners. His coach's jacket bears reference to the awards he's received along the way, two-time Northern Lights Conference and the Alaska Coaches Association Small Schools All State Coach of the Year.

On Saturday, Wyatt — along with assistant coaches Pete Swanson, Lee Flory and Terry Fraley — took the team somewhere no Homer football team has ever been: the state championship.

"This is a vision," Wyatt told the Homer News while the team warmed up before the game.

Three words sum up the character Wyatt seeks to instill in his players: honesty, integrity and courage.

"Can you put that on a piece of paper and define it? Probably not. But when you look out there, you can see it," he said of his team.

As if to illustrate his words, a freshman on the Mariner's "C" team caught a practice ball at the AT&T Sports Pavilion where the team was warming up for Saturday's game. A smile spread across the athlete's face, broadened when varsity players patted him on the back and offered words of praise. That non-varsity players were along is part of Wyatt's winning strategy.

"See that?" said Wyatt. "That's a step toward more confidence. ... There's no way to measure that."

It's a piece of what Wyatt called his "master plan," one he said is supported by Swanson, Florey and Fraley. It also is supported by parents like Angie Shank, whose son, John, plays on the "C" team.

"It's really cool because the older Mariners are so accepting of the newer kids," said Shank. "It's a real bonding experience."

Originally from Colorado, Wyatt taught in Bush Alaska for a year, began his career with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District at Chapman School in Anchor Point and transferred to Homer two years later.

His wife, Becky, is a secretary for Connections, the district's home school program. The couple's daughter, Brittney, a former Mariner wrestler, is studying microbiology at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. Their son, Mitch, also a former Mariner wrestler, is studying exercise science at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colo. Mitch flew back to Alaska for the weekend to attend Saturday's game.

Now that the push toward the championship game is over, Wyatt will focus on his own studies. This spring he will complete course work offered through a Kenai Peninsula Borough School district principalship program for aspiring school administrators.

Does that mean Wyatt is considering leaving coaching?

"I'm going to keep on doing this as long as I can," he said. "Each year is better and better."