by Lisa Moody Breslin photography by Amy McIntyre Devilbiss
Mike Bauer has been hailed as a local legend in Hanover, not necessarily because of his current role as athletic director for Hanover Public Schools, a position that he has held since last summer, but because of his life as a teacher, mentor, coach and friend to many.
Born in York, PA, Bauer attended York High School, where he played football and wrestled. He graduated from Albright College with a BA in Liberal Arts and years of memories linked to football and wrestling. Bauer taught and coached in the Muhlenburg School District before he came to Hanover.
Bauer now lives in the Hanover Borough with his wife, Jo Ann, who also taught at Hanover High School for 30 years. Both of their children (daughter, Kristen, 31, and son Alex, 29) grew up in Hanover and attended Hanover schools where they had both their parents as teachers.
Who are your heroes? My older sister, my mother and mother-in-law. My older sister, Judy Bauer Johnson, contracted cancer in her knee, had the knee amputated; a year after the amputation, she contracted cancer in the brain and died in 2014, at the age of 65. She never let the cancer or amputation discourage her outlook on life, which remained positive until she died. My mother, Wanda Nace, was part of the Greatest Generation. She died at the age of 92. What she and the others of her generation lived through makes her a hero. My mother-in-law, Yvonne Johnson, always had a smile on her face and never complained even though she had COPD. A fantastic outlook on life in spite of her adversity. I’ll never forget these three people and how they dealt with adverse situations when things weren’t the best. Just when I think I’m having a bad day, I think of them. Compared to them, my life is easy.
What is your most treasured possession? My family. Material possessions are just that, material. But family is precious.
What is your favorite sport to watch? I can watch any sport but my favorite, believe it or not, is professional cycling (Tour de France).
What is your favorite sport to coach? I loved coaching varsity football and JV baseball.
What is your favorite sport to play? I love cycling and going on rides. In my younger days I enjoyed all sports. Still do.
What is your favorite movie? Saving Private Ryan and The Band of Brothers series because I love reading and learning about WW II. My father fought in WW II.
When and where are you the happiest? Camping – We have a travel trailer and have seen much of the east coast while camping. My children went with us and it was very relaxing.
What three lessons have you learned from coaches? 1) Always keep in mind that the kid you are coaching is someone else’s kid. What if the kid were yours and someone else was coaching him/her? 2) Remember that these kids are only 15, 16, 17 or what ever age. They have a lot going on in their lives. 3). Finally, a kind word or compliment goes a long way with a kid.
What three lessons have your learned from athlete? 1 ) It’s their experience, not yours. Let them enjoy it. 2) Kids are very resilient. 3). Listen to them, especially during a contest. They sometimes know more of what’s going on than the coach.
What is your most rewarding coaching moment? I have lots of these. But watching kids succeed is extremely rewarding. Sports are a great outlet for kids considering what the world is like today, and how many external stimuli reach kids. In many ways, sports haven’t changed that much from when I played. You still get to be with your friends, learning and accomplishing different goals and showing a different part of yourself. Also, watching my own children compete in crucial contests and succeed/win.
What are some of the most heartwrenching moments as a coach? Again, I’ve experienced many of these. Watching my own children come up short in a game; watching a team go through the whole season undefeated and then lose a District game and have the season end. Heartbreaking. I have held many crying athletes who came up short in their goals.
How did teaching and other roles in education prepare you for your current AD role? My teaching career taught me to be organized which is a must as an AD. Being in the classroom in front of students and coaching prepares you when working with athletes and coaches. Having played a lot of sports, and being sports oriented, has prepared me to view each sport as its’ own entity. But I guess teaching, being around kids, was the best preparation. As a coach, I know their perspective. And finally, having lived, taught and coached in Hanover was extremely helpful because I knew the community.
Three adjectives that others would use to describe your mentorship style?
Forthright: Don’t sugarcoat or mince words when talking to people. Tell them the truth. Explain; Organized: I try to get things done as quickly as possible; Personable: Believe it or not, I do like to talk to people.
What have been your greatest achievements? In life, raising my children to become responsible, contributing adults. Hardest job I ever had to do. As AD, I think everything and everyone I meet and deal with is important. Therefore, I have no great achievement because everything I do and everyone I come in contact with is very important.
What is your greatest fear? Letting someone down or disappointing someone. Everyone and everything deserves my very best effort.
What trait do you least appreciate about yourself? I think all humans are continually learning, growing and evolving their whole life. Watching what you say, how you say it, when to say it and to whom is an art.
What do you hope will be your biggest accomplishment 20 years from now? I hope to increase the participation level for all the sports programs here at Hanover and make the experience of participating in sports for every kid a memorable and life learning experience.