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Aug. 19, 2022

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Travis Drake returns to coaching with Columbia River boys basketball

Former Washougal coach replaces longtime River coach David Long

By , Columbian staff writer

Just what has Travis Drake, Columbia River High’s new boys basketball coach, missed the most in 14 years since his last high school basketball head-coaching job?

“For anyone who has coached,” he said, “they know that there’s something different about that coach-player relationship.”

He’s now back as a varsity coach in Clark County. Drake was named the Rapids’ new coach Friday, as announced by athletic director Nick Davies. It’s Drake’s first head-coaching job since leading Washougal’s boys program from 2004-08.

The hire is pending school board approval.

Drake replaces David Long, who retired following the 2021-22 season after 30 years as boys coach, two as its girls coach, and 485 career wins.

Drake, 42, becomes just the fourth boys basketball coach at River since the school opened in 1962 and takes over a program that’s reached the postseason 27 times over the past 30 seasons. Drake spent last season as the school’s girls basketball junior-varsity coach; his two daughters, Kinzi and Camy, play basketball for the Rapids.

Since stepping down from Washougal in 2008, Drake’s worked his way up in school administrative roles mostly in Battle Ground Public Schools but never closed the door on coaching. That includes time as Prairie High’s athletic director and then its principal. Currently, Drake is principal at BGPS’ Laurin Middle School.

Next school year, he’ll move to the district office as Director of Secondary Schools where he’ll oversee Battle Ground and Prairie high schools, and the district’s alternative programs.

While a district administrator as a high school head coach is rare, Drake believes he knows how to best balance his time. He said his background as a high school and middle school principal is “as challenging as it gets.”

“It’ll take some coordinating,” he said, “and I need to make sure I’m doing both jobs well.”

Plus, Drake said he’s back with a different purpose from when he first became a high school head coach at 24. He said he planned to get back into coaching high school basketball once his daughters graduated from River. But when the opportunity to lead a program in the same Hazel Dell community he and his family reside in, it was the perfect scenario.

And what hasn’t changed in the 14 years between head-coaching jobs is the importance of relationships.

“The culture has been established,” he said. “The fact that this isn’t my first coaching job, I don’t feel like I have anything to prove other than the fact I’m the right person to develop these relationships with these kids and leverage those relationships to make this a very consistent, strong program.”

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