FILE PHOTO — The Yelm varsity boys basketball team rallies before their home game against the Bremerton Knights in early December. 

Yelm High School teacher Dave Wasankari will make a return to coaching the boys basketball team after first leaving the program seven years ago.

“Extremely excited to bring somebody that will bring some stability to the program and not use Yelm High School as a stepping stone to move somewhere else,” Yelm High School Athletic Director Rob Hill said. “The grittiness, the tough program that I think he’ll bring is something I think we’ll hang our hats on … I think it’s a giant plus of having someone in-building that can take the pulse of the day-to-day.”

The decision to hire Wasankari, a longtime coach with heavy involvement in Nisqually Valley youth sports, was made earlier this month. Hill said they’re looking forward to bringing in a familiar face who will take long-term interest in the program while prioritizing growth.

Wasankari replaces former head coach Sterling Carter, who three months earlier announced his departure in order to take a coaching position with the Cleveland Eagles in the Seattle 3A Metro League.

Wasankari originally left the Tornados back in 2013 after having gone 9-52 over the prior three years, back when Yelm was part of the 4A Narrows League. He also spent time as head coach of Rainier’s girls team, helping lead them to win the District 1A title.

Hill said Yelm High School considered five candidates to fill the position, but what stood out about Wasankari was his experience and vision for the program. Wasankari told Hill he has big plans to help further the program, Hill said.

“He mentioned what Jason (Ronquillo) did to our football program,” Hill said.

The goal is to continue building off the foundation laid in recent years to get buy-in from the community and build on the youth program.

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