By Ray Hamill — Following in the footsteps of his father Charlie, H-DNL commissioner Jack Lakin was recently honored by the North Coast Section Board of Managers and awarded the Phil Hempler Distinguished Service Award.
He becomes just the fourth H-DNL recipient of the highest award the NCS hands out and the first since Richard Grey in 2013.
“I am honored to be selected by the committee,” Lakin said. “What a privilege to be part of this distinguished group of previous recipients. I feel very fortunate and appreciative for the many opportunities I have experienced throughout my years of involvement with high school education and athletics.”
The Humboldt County native began his coaching career as a JV coach in basketball and football and an assistant coach in track after earning his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Humboldt State in 1979.
He coached the Loggers varsity basketball and football teams for several years, memorably winning an NCS Division-3A Redwood Empire football title with a 13-0 record in 2003.
He also served as AD at Eureka High, where he organized and participated with student athletes in community service projects such as cutting firewood for the elderly, the Relay for Life, and basketball clinics for Special Education students.
“My personal philosophy of education is to meet the individual needs of each student and support their transition in becoming productive young adults,” he said.
Lakin left coaching in 2006 to complete his degree in administration, and he served as Vice-Principal at Eureka High before serving as Superintendent of the Ferndale USD and Principal of Ferndale High.
Lakin also served as president, vice-president and commissioner of the H-DNL, as well as on the NCS Board of Managers, Sports Advisory Committee and Executive Committee.
Charlie Lakin won the award 20 years ago in 2002.
“My dad was the previous HDN Commissioner and he set a high bar for all of our league schools,” Jack Lakin said. “Regardless of the distance traveled, we needed to fulfill our responsibilities to the section, whether serving on seeding or governance committees, hosting NCS events, participating in NCS contests wherever and wherever scheduled. We needed to do our part. He laid the foundation and set the example for the high degree of participation we have today by our HDN members in the NCS.”
Lakin also paid tribute to the H-DNL administrators for all their efforts in helping guide the league through the recent pandemic, describing them as an “extremely dedicated group.”
“As the Commissioner I am extremely proud of the leadership demonstrated by all of our H-DNL schools during the pandemic,” he said. “Throughout these past months of COVID, they remained focused on providing opportunities for our student athletes to compete in high school athletics in a safe environment.
“Everyone associated with local high school athletics — ADs, administrators, coaches and officials — are all deserving of our appreciation and gratitude for their efforts during such a challenging and unprecedented set of circumstances.”
In addition to Charlie Lakin, Jack Lakin and Richard Grey, the only other H-DNL recipient of the Phil Hempler Distinguished Service Award since its inception in 1986 was Carl Del Grande in 1992.