Mark Poth adds NWAC’s highest honor to athletic career

By Connor Vanderweyst, Columbia Basin Herald

Mark Poth Award
Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald
Mark Poth speaks on behalf of his 2010-11 men’s basketball team at the Big Bend Hall of Fame banquet.

MOSES LAKE — Mark Poth has always been one to defer credit, whether it was to his student-athletes or assistant coaches.

Current Big Bend head men’s basketball coach Mingo Scott refused to let Poth gloss over an important announcement made at the college’s hall of fame banquet two weeks ago — that the legendary coach would be inducted into the NWAC Hall of Fame in late May.

“Now enough of that,” Poth said after he regained control of the lectern.

Even though it was an absolute no-brainer for Poth to enter the NWAC Hall of Fame, his induction came as a little bit of a surprise. The nomination process rotates from region to region, so naturally Poth would have his best chance when it was the East’s turn — the region he dominated as a head coach for three decades. However, this year it was the North.

“I was kind of taken by surprise when my president Terry Leas said that I’m going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame because it wasn’t the East’s time to do it,” Poth said. “So, I kind of talked to (NWAC Executive Director) Marco (Azurdia) and I said, ‘Marco, that’s kind of unusual, isn’t it?’ … He said you’re kind of a North guy, meaning I grew up in the north and I went to Bellevue Community College.”

Despite the unusual circumstances, there is nothing unusual about Poth’s credentials. Inside his office, trophies and cut nylon nets overcrowd the shelves. When asked how many Eastern Region championships he had won, Poth needed to get up from his desk chair and count one by one, eventually landing on 11. And besides those 11, he said there were about 15 years where his team finished in second place. Poth coached the Runnin’ Vikes for 30 seasons, averaging over 20 wins per year. His 617 wins is the most all-time.

“When I was young, I was very driven and I measured my success by wins and losses and championships, but as I matured I see a lot greater impact in the real importance of coaching and the opportunity you have to work with student-athletes and have an impact on their life that’s just not what happens on the court and I think I’ve come to appreciate that aspect of it,” Poth said.

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