Former Homer High School athletic director poses on Friday, July 1, 2022, at the high school athletic field in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Former Homer High School athletic director poses on Friday, July 1, 2022, at the high school athletic field in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Work ethic, grit and teamwork

After two decades, Homer athletic director says goodbye to program he helped build

Chris Perk has been a sports guy since he was young.

A friend who lived next to his grandma in Homer suggested he join the Little League team one summer when he was a kid, and later convinced him to go out for the wrestling team. From there, he was hooked.

Perk, who is well known on the southern peninsula for playing sports and later coaching and facilitating them, is leaving his position as the Homer athletic director after 22 years.

“It’s been an amazing experience working in the high school and being part of a town that’s really giving, and looks out for a lot of people,” Perk said. “In the sporting world, I’d like to think that I obtained a lot of knowledge and learned from a lot of great people.”

A graduate of Homer High School, Perk played football and basketball, and wrestled. He went on to wrestle for Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, after high school, and returned to Homer to teach physical education at the middle school in 1997. In 2000, he took over as the Homer High School wrestling coach and athletic director.

Perk said he has looked up to others in the area during his tenure, like John Andrews, former athletic director at since-closed Skyview High School; Tim Delaney, a former AD and health teacher at Kenai Central High School; and Al Howard, former Soldotna High School AD and one of the past presidents of the Kenai Peninsula School Activities Association.

“I really took notes from those guys to see how they ran their athletic departments,” Perk said. “And I think I just tried to do the right thing as much as possible.”

In addition to his duties as an AD, Perk led the Homer High wrestling team to multiple state championships during his time as coach. He and the team won state titles in 2015 and 2018, and finished as runner-ups in the 2016 and 2017 state tournaments.

Perk said building a wrestling program people wanted to be a part of, a program of work ethic and grit, was one of his biggest achievements during his time at the school.

“It was cool to be able to just know that there’s a system in place and how to build a program from the youth level, and see a group of kids go through the system and then graduate and win a couple state championships,” he said.

And getting there, he said, wouldn’t have been possible without all the support throughout the years — which included support from the booster club and Alaska Region III.

“We couldn’t have done it without great assistance and people in the community that were part of it,” Perk said. “Everyone’s … always willing, it seems like at Homer, to reach out and be a part of things.”

Even though he’s retiring from Homer, he’s not quite finished with his career. Perk said he’s headed down to Washington to take a full-time athletic director role at a local middle school, but mainly so he can be closer to his daughter and three grandkids for a few years.

He emphasized that he’s not leaving Homer for good, and they’ll still be back every summer.

“This is our community, we’re not selling out,” Perk said. “This is a good time, I think just to explore a bit.”

To him, athletics are a lot more than just a few practices and games during the season. They’re emblematic of other parts of life.

“Teamwork is so important, because in the day-to-day operation, I think we’re all on this planet together looking out for each other,” Perk said. “I also think it’s kind of cool that there’s a coach and someone that you can look up to, and it’s a way to better yourself and hopefully you can use those tools later on in life to lean on when things get tough.”

Sports teach kids the value of sacrifice and self improvement, he said.

“I guess the phrase I like to use is try to make people around you better,” Perk said. “I think sports allow that to happen if you take advantage of it.”

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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