North Star Knights assistant coach and former Jefferson High and Western Montana College athlete Bill Mulvaney has been selected for the Class C Assistant Coach of the Year award by the Montana Coaches Association. He is one of two long-serving Montana prep assistants who will receive this year’s MCA award, along Ted Ori of Class A Dillon.
Mulvaney and Ori will be presented their awards during the MCA clinic, to be held at Great Falls High on Aug. 2-4.
MCA executive director Don Olsen stated, “While Bill has served as head mentor, many of his 41 years have been as an assistant or junior high coach, always serving with dignity and honor,” stated MCA executive director Don Olsen. “MCA salutes Coach Mulvaney for his outstanding contribution to athletics in Montana.”
A 1972 graduate of JHS in Boulder, Mulvaney went on to Western Montana to earn a teaching degree while lettering in football and track for the Bulldogs.
Following his graduation from WMC, he took a teaching job on the Hi-Line with the Hingham school system in 1976, where he began his coaching career.
“I was hired to be a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher, and then I was also hired as a junior high basketball and track coach, and head high school track coach," recalls Mulvaney. “My older brother, Tom, had a good track program going in East Helena back in the ‘70s ... and I wanted to get a good program going in Hingham.”
Mulvaney has seen a lot of changes in the local area school systems over his career.
“Each of the six towns between Havre and Chester had their own high school when I started,” he related. “There were Kremlin and Gildford to the east of us, and then Rudyard, Joplin and Inverness to the west.”
However, over the years, the declining population on the Hi-Line resulted in consolidation of school systems.
Mulvaney explained how the Rudyard Panthers and the Hingham Rangers went together to become the Blue Sky Eagles. Further population decline resulted in the North Star Knights about 15 years ago, which consists of students from Kremlin, Gildford, Rudyard and Hingham.
During this time, Mulvaney served as both a head coach and assistant coach in track and field at both the high school and junior high school levels.
He frequently headed up or assisted with both boys and girls junior high basketball as well. He has also served as an assistant high school basketball coach for many of his years, on both the boys and girls side. One year, Mulvaney was the head girls prep hoops coach, but other than that, he was always an assistant for the high school basketball squads.
And, in the fall, he has assisted with the football program for many years, once football started up in the area schools.
In track and field, Mulvaney has assisted with capturing 15 District championships, four Divisional titles and four top-3 State finishes, including one State championship. He has coached eight individual State champions, and 12 Divisional titlists.
When Mulvaney heard that Ori and he were named Assistant Coach of the Year in their respective classes, he was reminded of their Western Montana connection.
“I think I was a couple of years ahead of Ted in school, but we both went to Western together for a while. I remember Ted being a very good baseball and softball player,” he recalls. “Western has always been known for its education program, turning out lots of teachers and coaches. And it looks like they are pretty good at cranking out assistant coaches, too."
Mulvaney has signed a teaching contract for the 2017-18 school year, where he will continue his assistant coaching duties, helping with high school football in the fall, and both junior high and high school track and field in the spring.