Como’s Koua Yang previews the 2023-24 sports year

By Eric Erickson,
Sports analysis

Fall sports teams across the state are already in action.

At Como Park, the fall season includes boys and girls soccer, boys and girls cross country running, girls tennis, girls swimming, girls volleyball and football. Before any student-athlete can participate, they need the approval of the athletic director.

A current sports physical must be on file, a state eligibility form must be signed, a participation fee must be paid (or an initial deposit made) and academic credits must be checked to ensure each student is on track for graduation.

The administrative paperwork is just the beginning of an athletic director’s responsibility.

Koua Yang is entering his sixth year as the A.D. for Como. His previous work in St. Paul included 16 years as a teacher and coach at Harding, followed by two years as an administrator there. In the 1990s, Yang was a Como student and multi-sport athlete.

Yang is rightfully proud of his Cougar roots as well as the positive vibes currently experienced at his alma mater. Along with assistant athletic director Brandon Kuether, they will supervise more than 30 events on campus during the fall season. That will include a homecoming tripleheader featuring football, girls soccer and boys soccer on Saturday, Oct. 7.

In this interview with the Bugle, Yang provided insight about the upcoming year of Cougar athletics.

Q: As you begin your sixth year as Como’s A.D., what’s something different about the job than what you imagined when you started?

A: One of the most surprising things I learned was there was no budget support from the school district. I inherited whatever was in the budget from the previous years, which wasn’t much. On the brighter side, I get to be the ultimate fan of my students in all sports – not just the ones I coached when I was teaching and coaching.

Q: What do you enjoy about being the A.D.?

A: Being an A.D. gives me a wider lens into all the sports. I appreciate the opportunity to build a support system around athletics for students. Having the ability to give back to my former school and community that shaped who I am today is extremely rewarding.

Q: What would you consider to be the strengths of the Como athletic program?

A: Many of our students are multi-sport athletes and everyone has the opportunity to contribute in a variety of ways. Como, as a school, feels more like a closer-knit family than some of the larger schools.

Q: What are some of the challenges or issues for Como athletics going forward?

A: Because our school district (SPPS) is so large, we have to divide our resources and talents. Como faces similar challenges to other smaller schools and districts around the state with capital improvements. We are slowly fundraising to close the gap for our community.

Q: What’s the status of the new tennis courts that retired coach Kathy Dumas donated?

A: It is a complicated process. In a nutshell, the courts will be reconstructed (not resurfaced) in the summer of 2024. We have to be better at honoring the generous gift from our generous coach and colleague with our timeline, which was originally set for the courts to be completed by this fall.

Q: For the 2023-2024 school year, are there any new initiatives or activities you’re excited about?

A: One of the new initiatives for the whole state (in basketball) is the addition of the shot clock. Our shot clocks (at Como) were recently installed and are ready for the winter season.

Q: Final question: What advice would you give to Como’s student-athletes?

A: Find a way to participate in the activities offered at Como Park Senior High and bring your friends along. Get your friends and families to the contests and events to support our community. 

Eric Erickson is a social studies teacher at Como Park High School.

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