Koua Yang graduated from Como Park High School in 1994. During his years as a Como student, athletics played a huge role in his life. Yang was a four-time, all-conference wrestler, twice earning all-state status. He was also a four-time, all-conference tennis player for the Cougars.
Beyond his sports success and honors, Yang found that athletics helped him develop the work ethic, resiliency and leadership skills needed to pursue his career in education. After 16 years of teaching social studies at Harding High School (and two years as an administrator), Yang returned to Como last fall as the Cougars’ athletic director.
In this interview with the Bugle, Yang talks about his new position, athletic offerings, and future goals.
Q: How does it feel to be back at Como in your new role?
A: It’s been great coming back home to Como. The community, staff, and coaches have been very welcoming and supportive. I am fortunate to have a solid core of parents, especially the Como Booster Club, supporting Como clubs, teachers, and athletics. Como has a strong leadership team with Stacy Collins as our leader. She epitomizes what leadership means, often going well beyond the call of duty and making my transition a smooth one. The bottom line is that I am excited to have the chance to improve the high school experience of young adults.
Q: How do you see club sports, such as ultimate Frisbee and the brand-new boys’ volleyball program, impacting activities coordinated and regulated by the Minnesota State High School League?
A: Many traditional activities have seen their participation numbers decrease with new sports like lacrosse, ultimate and boys’ volleyball. However, as an energetic young man growing up, I appreciated all the different sports and the lessons/skills each sport taught me. It made me a better athlete. With that being said, I still believe in choices for all of our kids and am happy to support all teams because everyone belongs in our community. Some not-so-obvious challenges are Title 9 issues (with newly created sports like boys’ volleyball), facility space, and individual budgets for equipment, uniforms, league fees, and transportation.
Q: What are your ideas for improving the athletic program at Como? What would you like to see happen in the next year? In the next five years?
A: My vision for Como Park is to increase participation and improve the quality in all sports. The winter season was a good start. We need to maximize the resources we have in the building and capitalize on our relationship with Murray Middle School and other youth feeder programs. Participation numbers are a priority for the short term and long term, but we also need to hire, train, and retain the best possible coaches to develop our young men and women. We need coaches that are willing to improve their own craft. Another high priority for the next five to 10 years is to move Como Park from a Tier II facility to Tier I. Our students and community deserve the best possible facility in order to promote Como Park. My job is to eliminate as many excuses as possible and level the playing field, so we can compete with schools across the state.