The name Strack in Tucson dates to 1972 when the late Dave Strack moved from Michigan to become the athletic director at Arizona, where he brought this city the likes of Fred Snowden, Jim Young and Larry Smith and helped the movement to get the Wildcats into what was the Pac-10 at the time.
The name is once again prominent in these parts because of what Mike Strack is doing in his second year as Rincon/University’s head football coach.
Strack, who has the Rangers (2-1) off to their best start since 2012, was a guest of AllSportsTucson.com’s High School Sports Preview Show on Thursday at Wings Over Broadway (Broadway and Camino Seco).
In the accompanying video, Strack discusses the play of his team heading into Friday night’s anticipated home game at 7 against Cienega (1-2). Strack, in his sixth year as a head coach overall after coaching at Lincoln (Kan.) High School for four years, has already won more games than his inaugural season last year in which Rincon/University finished 1-9.
Mike Strack was born in 1981, a year before his grandfather’s last year as the Arizona athletic director. Dave Strack stayed at the school as a professor of physical education. That allowed Mike to frequently attend games and the Arizona campus from where he lived at Peoria growing up.
MIKE STRACK PROFILEGraduated from Peoria Centennial and attended Bethany College of Lindsborg, Kan.
Lincoln, Kan. (2008-11) High School, 17-14
Rincon (2018-19) High School, 3-10
“That was kind of my introduction to college football was University of Arizona games,” Mike Strack said about watching games Arizona Stadium. “I remember I used to get so excited of the week. We’d get at least one of my grandfather’s (season tickets) … He always had season tickets. He’d give my dad one a week and we’d come down. I can remember Arizona beating Oklahoma (6-3 in 1989). … It was a very low-scoring game.
“Arizona Stadium would be packed and it would be packed every time we went down. It was an incredible atmosphere. I’ve been back to a couple of UA games since I’ve been back. Walking into that stadium takes me back 30 years ago when I was 7, 8 years old and going to games with my dad and my grandfather. Those memories are special to me and it’s kind of cool to be back in Tucson where those memories occurred.”
Mike Strack graduated from Peoria Centennial in 1999 and went on to play college football in Kansas as a prolific quarterback for NAIA school Bethany in Lindsborg, Kan. Upon earning his degree there, he got into coaching. He became the head coach at Lincoln (Kan.) High School in 2008 and remained there until 2011 before he left to Mill Valley (Kan.) High School to become the offensive coordinator.
When the Rincon/University opening occurred after the 2017 season, Strack jumped at the opportunity to return to head coaching and come back home with his wife and family.
“As a family, my wife and I had been talking about making that move for a couple of years and the opportunity arose and we decided to take a leap of faith at that point,” Mike Strack said. “I was familiar with their record over the last six or seven years (8-42 between 2013 and 2017). I coach high school football for the opportunity to develop young men through the sport and I believe that.
“I believe if you are doing that then the competitive success will follow. I think this year we’re starting to see that. We have a long ways to go, for sure. But I wasn’t deterred by their lack of success. There are plenty of great programs that weren’t great before they became great. We still understand that there is still a gap between us and some of the upper-tier programs in the state. We’re just trying to get a little better and really maintain our philosophical focus of developing people through the sport of football.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.