We wanted to bring that expertise, that passion for influencing young lives. When we interviewed him, he asked what our expectations were. I told him, first, it’s that our boys get excited to play football again … and second that they have a program to get involved in that teaches them all the great life lessons that all team sports offer young people. —Mountain View principal Taran Chun
OREM — One of the most successful high school football coaches is back on the sideline.
Former Timpview head coach Louis Wong is Mountain View High's new head coach after nearly two years away from the sport. The immensely popular and very successful coach resigned as part of a settlement with Provo School District in June 2012. His resignation ended months of turmoil regarding financial issues that led to an overall review of how public schools across the state handle money for activities and athletic programs. Two audits by state officials revealed problems regarding how money was solicited from boosters and processed by the coach and school officials.
While Wong contended he was simply working within the flawed system that existed, district officials blamed him for financial problems with fundraising and sponsor contracts. The issues at Timpview led to audits of several top programs and an overhaul of what's allowed and who trains school officials to handle money. The Granite School District completely changed its rules regarding boosters and fundraising after an audit of Cottonwood's football program.
The ordeal was incredibly painful for Wong and his family, which is why Mountain View didn’t make a formal announcement when Wong was chosen as the school's new football coach earlier this month, according to principal Taran Chun. But administrators, parents, students and the school's other coaches are thrilled to have Wong at Mountain View.
“I was an administrator in the Provo District, and I was very familiar with the issues at Timpview,” Chun said. “I also live in the Timpview boundaries, and my boys play in the younger leagues. His reputation among student-athletes and parents is very strong. The community loves him.”
Wong is one of the most successful prep football coaches in state history. In his seven years at the helm of the T-bird program, he won seven region titles and four state championships. And while the fact that Wong knows how to win was attractive, that’s not the only reason Mountain View administrators chose him.
“We wanted to bring that expertise, that passion for influencing young lives,” Chun said. “When we interviewed him, he asked what our expectations were. I told him, first, it’s that our boys get excited to play football again and second that they have a program to get involved in that teaches them all the great life lessons that all team sports offer young people. If we win more games than we lose in the process, that’s great. There is no expectation in our community to win state championships.”
The fact that Wong is revered as a mentor, not just among his football players, but among all of his former students and athletes of other sports, was what impressed the panel interviewing candidates for the job.
Chun said there were no concerns with the issues that led to Wong’s resignation from Timpview.
“The ironic and beautiful thing is that in K through 12 education, since that time, the whole landscape has really changed for the better,” Chun said. “We’ve all learned from it. We’re all better for it. Coach Wong and us, we’re walking into this with our eyes wide open.”
Chun said the new financial practices and training protects all parties — coaches, parents and schools. Chun said the job became available when coach Jon Synder, who is a popular English teacher at the school, resigned at the end of the season.
“It’s no secret our program has struggled,” Chun said. “He said our program needed a change. And I thought that was very gracious of our head coach.”
Another reason administrators embraced Wong is that he is supportive of multi-sport athletes, something that’s increasingly rare at larger schools but vital at a school like Mountain View.
Chun said there is palpable excitement about the hire and what it means for the school that won just one football game last season.
“Let’s be honest, with school choice, with kids being able to choose where they play, there are athletes who live in the Mountain View school boundaries that have chosen to go elsewhere to play football,” Chun said. “There is an excitement in the air that those athletes will now be staying at Mountain View because of him.”