Mark Mercer, the widely-known San Lorenzo Valley High School teacher and alumnus, has been named the school’s new athletic director effective Aug. 1.
“I’m excited about a new challenge,” the 34-year-old said last week. “I know it’s going to be a lot of work and responsibility. I feel overwhelmed with the support from friends and parents in the valley.”
Mercer graduated from San Lorenzo Valley High School in 1997 and then from the University of California, Davis in 2002.
Following college, he returned to Santa Cruz County where he taught physical education in Live Oak School District for several years before being hired by SLV. He has taught sixth through ninth grade P.E. at SLV for the past seven years.
Mercer replaces Marcus Northcutt, who resigned from the position in June after coming to the school in 2006.
Northcutt said he stepped down because he felt the focus was less on students and more on adults. He will remain at the school as a P.E. instructor.
Mercer has coached football at SLV for the past 11 years as an assistant frosh-soph coach, as junior varsity head coach, and as the offensive coordinator for the varsity for the past six years. He will step away from his football coaching duties.
“This is such a new challenge,” Mercer said. “I feel like I need to focus on athletic director.”
He will continue to coach the schools boys golf team which he has done for the past four years.
Mercer said he’s ready for the additional responsibility and “has a good connection” with the previous three athletic directors – Lee Overbeck who held the position for 30 years, Mercer’s older brother, Brian Mercer, and Northcutt.
As new director, Mercer’s first goal is to settle the athletic department’s finances. He said that each sport will take on a fundraising roll and he’s proud that SLV has remained the only school to forgo the “pay to play” model by raising enough money to offset costs.
“I was a freshman in high school when the (tax measure) failed,” Mercer said. “That’s when the boosters stepped up.”
Mercer credits fundraising such as the weekly bingo game and the work the boosters do.
“It’s been such a strong program here,” he said. “You kind of forget that other schools have (to pay).”
Mercer has two brother who graduated from SLV and are currently educators. His older brother Brian was an assistant principal at the high school and now holds the same title at a school in Southern California while his younger brother Jeff is an elementary school teacher in Cupertino. His parents, Mark and Chris are retired and live in the San Lorenzo Valley.
Mercer joins Principal Karen van Putten as part of a revamped administration.