BILLINGS — Mark Wahl, the athletics and activities director for School District 2 in Billings for the past 12 years, is retiring at the end of the 2022-23 academic year.
Wahl, who turns 60 in April and has spent 37 years in education, said he notified outgoing SD2 Superintendent Greg Upham of his decision at the beginning of February.
"It's just time," Wahl told MTN Sports on Tuesday. "I've always kind of felt like I can tell when it's time to move on, and I think that time is now."
Wahl took over as AD for Billings Public Schools in June of 2011. He replaced Dave Williams, who retired after 16 years on the job.
Wahl said he planned to wait until after the basketball season to inform the district's leadership team of his intention to retire, but because SD2 is in the process of hiring a full-time emergency preparedness coordinator he decided to expedite his announcement to facilitate a smoother transition.
Wahl's hope is that the next AD will bring renewed vitality to the job.
"I started thinking about it a little bit last year," Wahl said. "I've never really had to pull myself to events. I've always had the energy and the enthusiasm to get up and go to events, and I found myself just kind of struggling this year. One thing I don't want is to end up hating it.
"I just felt like with the changes and with Superintendent Upham leaving, I felt like it was a good time for someone else to start new, and hopefully they can bring some new energy to the position."
Wahl said he is most proud of the way he and his staff worked with Billings' three public high schools — Senior, Skyview and West — to maintain equity among them, and the effort that went into providing the coaches with what they needed for success.
"We're pretty detailed with what we do for the three schools and we try to do things the same way," he said. "Ultimately I prided myself on just kind of paving the way for the coaches to do their thing and then get out of their way. I didn't want to be at the forefront of events. I just wanted the coaches to feel like they had the tools they needed to do what they had to do. That was my goal and I think we accomplished that."
The state wrestling tournament, held annually at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark, is the district's biggest event each year in terms of planning, and can be counted among Wahl's top achievements. Wahl said he and his staff worked diligently to keep the statewide event rolling as efficient as possible.
"The hardest part for me is leaving the people I work with — the other ADs around the state, the coaches, the leadership team with School District 2, my staff, the state wrestling staff ... that's the hardest part," Wahl said. "But I haven't second guessed my decision one time. I feel like it's the right time."
Prior to taking over as AD for SD2, Wahl served as an assistant principal at Billings Senior for four years. Before that he was a math teacher at Billings Skyview for 11 years and was the head boys basketball coach for the Falcons for nine seasons.
Prior to joining SD2, Wahl spent 10 years as a teacher with Billings Catholic Schools, and was the head girls basketball coach and head golf coach at Billings Central as well as an assistant boys varsity coach for the Rams.
Wahl, a Helena High grad, said he is looking forward to the next chapter.
"I renewed my (teaching) certificate just in case something comes up in a school somewhere," he said. "I have some work life left, so if I can find something part time or full time that I enjoy I'm going to do it.
"My wife has lived 37 years with this schedule — a coach's schedule and an AD's schedule — and I think it's time we slow down a bit. I want to support Nathan (Wahl, his son and the head football coach at Skyview), and our grandkids are coming up. I want to be able to go watch them play. So it's just a lot of time and a lot of hours in this job. You kind of run out of gas a little bit."