APTOS — Mark Dorfman has spent most of his time inside his office or out on the field/gym as the athletic director for Aptos High over the past three decades.
But after giving it much thought and consideration, especially for the kids, Dorfman has decided to step down after 30 years as head of the athletics program.
“Time for someone with new energy and new vision to take over,” wrote Dorfman in an email.
During his tenure as athletic director, Aptos High won 232 Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League titles, including 21 as the track coach, and 30 Central Coast Section championships.
Dorfman was an assistant football coach for 26 years but took a few years off when he took over as the track and field coach for 13 years from 1995 to 2008.
Dorfman officially announced he was stepping down at the beginning of June but the idea of retiring started brewing sometime in November.
Dorfman said he never pictured himself staying around as long as he did but something kept bringing him back.
“The dedication of our student-athletes and coaches, they inspired me,” he said.
Mark Dorfman, right, stands next to former Aptos High football player Jon Sullivan. (contributed by Aptos High)
Dorfman hired Dan Gruber as an assistant coach for the track team during the fall of 1991, which was shortly after he took over a parttime athletic director, coach and teacher.
“I’m probably his closest work friend,” said Gruber with a chuckle. “We have this relationship where he yells at me and I pretend like I didn’t do it.”
Gruber said his longtime co-worker developed not just teams but a complete athletic program.
“He’s always had the utmost integrity,” Gruber said. “He would never blindside you and was straight up. He wants to win the right way and he does it.”
Gruber said he remembers Dorfman being competitive but a great sportsman who was respected by those he defeated and those who defeated Aptos High.
“I don’t think anyone can give you a bad word for him,” Gruber said.
Dorfman had plenty of personal achievements, including building an all-weather track without Pajaro Valley Unified School District assistance thanks to help from many parents and the community.
Dorfman also created the Aptos High School Sports Hall of Fame and teamed up with the leadership of the Aptos Sports Foundation to pay for the turf field, also without PVUSD assistance.
As the track coach, he helped establish the second longest girls track and field dual meet winning-streak in California history. The Mariners went 18 and 1/2 years without a loss and the team record was 122-0 from 1996-2015.
Aptos softball coach Phil Rojas Jr. was brought onboard as an assistant coach by Dorfman a little more than 11 years ago.
Rojas took over as head coach five years ago and said as new coaches come in, Dorfman guides them to where the need to be because he assumed all the coaches were going to be there for a long time.
“It’s kind of like he puts you on training wheels and then before you know it, you got it,” Rojas said. “There’s more than just coaching. It’s all the other stuff that comes with being the head coach.”
Rojas said that meant keeping all the coaches certified and legal.
“Keeping us on our toes, up to date on CCS rules,” he said.
And like most of the curent or former coaches, Rojas said he’s going to miss the little talks they had and chatting about the small things.
“I would go up there before practices maybe twice a week, into his office, just to check in I call it,” Rojas said.
Mark Dorfman, left, stands next to former Aptos High volleyball standout Chaska Potter. (contributed by Aptos High)
Jason Biancardi graduated from Aptos High in 2001 and Dorfman was his football coach at the time.
Biancardi is now the head coach for the baseball team and has developed a special relationship with Dorfman.
“It’s one thing to get along with your AD but to have a special bond is pretty cool,” Biancardi said. “He’s helped me a lot and I’ve learned a lot these past four years just with coaching.”
Biancardi said Dorfman has gone out of his way to make sure he knows the rules and is learning on the job.
“He really cares about the kids,” Biancardi said. “He’s not just there for the job, he’s there because he likes working with kids… He’s not there just overseeing things. I think it’s a passion of his and it makes it easy working with somebody like that.”
Aptos football coach Randy Blankenship said Dorfman will be irreplaceable and was the best line coach he ever had.
“(Dorfman) never saw a touchdown scored, he was always watching his guys and they kept improving and improving,” Blankenship said. “He coined the phrase, ‘It’s a great day to be a Mariner’ and that’s exactly how he approached his job.”
Blankenship said the longtime athletic director made sure the coaches did their jobs because the work reflected on him.
“I think all the coaches try a little bit harder because Mark’s the guy in charge,” Blankenship said.
Blankenship said what he’ll remember the most is the day Dorfman hired him as the coach of the football team.
“He brought our family over here and gave us an opportunity and I’ll always be indebted to him for what he did for our family,” he said.
Blankenship said Dorfman is a calming, insightful person who’s always looking on the bright side of things.
Blankenship, who is entering his 10th year as the football coach, has been at eight different schools but said there’s been nobody like Dorfman, who has had a big influence for everybody at Aptos High.
“(Dorfman) has been the best athletic director I’ve had,” Blankenship said.
Dorfman said the heroes are the coaches, the student-athletes and their families.
“They do all the hard work and heavy lifting,” he wrote. “I just try to keep things running smoothly behind the scenes for all of them and not mess things up.”
Dorfman said he’s going to miss all the friendships he’s forged over the years.
Asked if there was any ultimate goal he wanted to achieve going into the job 30 years ago, he said: “Not really, I just wanted to do a good job.”
Editor's Note: This article will be published in the June 14 edition of the Register-Pajaronian.