After 25 years, Archie Young wraps up his career coaching at Mt. Edgecumbe

Mar. 23—Archie Young likes to joke that August is like Christmas for the coaches at Mt. Edgecumbe, full of surprises for the season ahead.

The public boarding school in Sitka has new students coming in and departing each year, and it isn't until classes start and the dust settles that the coaches know who might be representing the school on various athletic fields and courts.

In 25 years as a teacher and coach, Young has thrived as a stabilizing force in those unpredictable circumstances. But earlier this season, Young announced that this will be his final one at Mt. Edgecumbe.

"It's been one of the joys of working at Mt. Edgecumbe," said Young, the school's boys basketball coach. "You don't know who is coming back, you don't know who is coming in. You're never set in stone what you want to do as a program. There are a few foundational things you want to do as far as work ethic and teamwork and family."

Young will be moving to Anchorage in June, allowing him to be closer to more family members.

"Now was a good time and 25 years gave me the flexibility to do that," he said.

Young was a high school star himself, playing for Wrangell High. He ended up at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he chose to major in education as a junior. His father was a contractor in Southeast and after graduating, Young joined his dad on a nine-month remodeling job in Sitka for the Coast Guard. Young never left.

"The principal approached me and talked to me about if I was interested in coaching, and we had a conversation, and a month later, I had a job teaching and coaching at Mt. Edgecumbe," Young said. "Here we are (25 years later)."

Due to the nature of the school, each year is a fresh start for Young with little continuity from season to season. But he said the teams come together quickly.

"These kids are living together 24/7," he said. "A lot of coaches ask, 'What do you do for team bonding?' We don't do bonding. They live together. They eat together. We don't have to do that because it's such a unique environment."

Young has also had a big impact on young athletes through coaching with Native Youth Olympics. He said hard work is the core value he preaches the most to the student-athletes he works with. He said that was an ideal his father instilled in him.

"We talk a lot about hard work doesn't guarantee anything, but it provides an opportunity for success," Young said.

[Barrow girls basketball team honors late coach at state tournament]

His final team at Mt. Edgecumbe may be as good as any he's had over the years. The Braves lost a 63-61 thriller in Saturday's championship game against Nome to finish runner-up with just one loss.

Following the game, the Mt. Edgecumbe fans showed their gratitude, chanting, "Thank you Archie, thank you Archie," from the stands.

He hasn't ruled out continuing to coach after he relocates and said it's not something that's easy to give up.

"Coaching is something I really enjoy," he said. "The challenge of trying to help people improve and watching that process and molding that process — there's just a lot of joy in that."