As of Monday, August 6, 2018
MABTON The Mabton Junior/Senior High School has a new athletic director.
Chris Cardenas replaces Joe West, who is the new principal at Artz-Fox Elementary School.
A 2004 graduate of Granger High School, Cardenas is known by longtime Yakima Valley residents for his basketball prowess. His Spartans team competed three years in the 1A State Hardwood Classic.
After graduating high school, he attended and played the sport he loves at Columbia Basin College. He earned an Associate of Arts degree before transferring to Eastern Washington University. There, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in health and fitness, graduating in 2009.
The following year, Cardenas began his teaching career in physical education at Mabton. He taught the middle school students before transferring to the high school in 2015.
“It’s not every day an athletic director’s position opens up,” Cardenas said.
Seeing the opportunity to do more for the small school and students he’s come to love, he applied for the position and got it.
Cardenas said he felt compelled to apply “… to see athletic programs into a new direction.”
Feeling he has a strong bond and relationship with the kids in Mabton, Cardenas is hoping to open doors for them.
He said the students deserve the same opportunities and compassion as other students in the Yakima Valley.
There are a great number of opportunities in sports, and Cardenas aims to provide them.
“Last year, we were fortunate to have two players (Diego Garza and Britnee Guerrero) moving on to play at the collegiate level,” he said. “That’s a great year for us.”
Cardenas knows it isn’t every athlete that will have the chance to play in college, but there are skills and learning opportunities to be gained. The skills and lessons will serve the athletes later in life, he believes.
Because he grew up competing in sports, Cardenas understands the value of working in a team environment. From the novice to the more experienced players, he believes there is something to be gained from taking part in athletics.
He aims to develop the programs and build interest in them, as well as find more opportunities for students to take part.
“Numbers are a challenge,” Cardenas said.
There is a need for the kids in Mabton to feel comfortable, and for them to become engaged.
“I want them to see their potential,” Cardenas said.
He would like to see full programs. He wants there to be enough athletes for JV and varsity teams.
“We have always been very competitive — we have to find the fine line for coaches to address and meet the needs of the athletes,” Cardenas said.