Speckman hitting the ground running

Mark Speckman is adjusting to life quickly on the East Coast.

The former UC Davis football assistant head coach and running back coach has been adjusting on the fly in his coaching career since 1978.

His teaching and coaching career started in 1981 at Livingston High, where he taught social studies and physical education. He also became the Wolves varsity football head coach, and his first head coaching position after working as an assistant coach on the coast for three seasons.

Speckman was a big influence on the Livingston High campus. He always looked at a glass half-full and fuller. He always wanted to get the best of their students in the classroom, weight room and football field.

Yours truly mentioned in 2021 that he’s the reason why I went out for high school football. That was thanks to him visiting my junior high school, along with the Livingston High boys basketball and baseball head coaches, to talk to us eighth graders. Before that, I was debating between playing baseball or track and field.

Then Speckman ventured to Gilroy High to teach and coach football from 1983 to 1986.

But his next adventure, unknown to him at that time, would become a dynasty he, coaches and players would build when he returned to the Central Valley in the spring of 1986.

Now the Merced High football head coach, Speckman and the Bears won six consecutive Central California Conference titles from 1988 to 1993. No other school in the CCC at that time, which were Atwater, Turlock and the four Modesto City Schools in Modesto, Downey, Grace Davis and Beyer, dominated the conference prior like the Bears.

Speckman started a new chapter of his illustrious coaching career when UCD head coach Dan Hawkins brought him onto the Willamette University in Salem, Ore. from 1995 to 2011. Hawkins was the head coach at the Oregon college. Speckman served as head coach from 1997 to 2011.

Then Speckman returned to California in 2012, this time to the Bay Area where he was raised most of his life. He was the next Menlo College football head coach, where he attended in the early 1970s.

But he left after one season, the a new adventure started for him in Canada. Speckman became the running backs coach for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League in 2013 and 2014.

Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., was the next stop for him, working as offensive coordinator for two seasons.

He was at UCD the last five seasons.

“My coaching path has been amazing,” Speckman said. “I never dreamed I’d have had the opportunities to coach at so many places. Never meant to move, but life and family and opportunities are fluid. I have fond memories of all the places I’ve had the pleasure to coach.”

Now he’s flying again. A new job and, most importantly, being closer to family. This includes a grandchild on the way.

Last week, Speckman announced he was leaving the Aggies to become the offensive coordinator at Clarion University, located in Clarion, Pa.

“So far, Pennsylvania has been very busy,” Speckman said. “With so little time to prepare, I’ve been working on meeting staff and players and getting ready for camp. I hit the ground running.”

Speckman admits leaving California is rough.

“The absolute hardest part about leaving is saying good-bye to the players at Davis,” Speckman said. “Especially the running backs. They are incredible athletes and people. Ulonzo (Gilliam, a running back who is returning for his senior season at UCD) came in the same year I did. You recruit and develop relationships with the player and parents. It is tough to leave. But there are players here to meet and coach up!”

The perks of living in Davis and the surrounding areas in Yolo County, with being very close to Sacramento and the Bay Area, will remain in Speckman’s heart.

“I will miss living in California,” Speckman said. “I will especially miss riding my bike to work and around town. Greatest town to ride a bike in. I will miss the people who work so hard at UC Davis. I will miss seeing all of the improvements to the stadium, locker room and Edwards Center be completed. I suspect I’ll miss the weather in California, although I haven’t seen any snow yet!”

Now, as he put it on social media, he’s dusted off the fly playbook. The Golden Eagles, Clarion University’s mascot, will be running the fly offense

During his coaching years from Livingston through Merced and beginning of his collegiate coaching career, Speckman ran the plane. This is an offense that can be deceptive. The offense has the fullback and tailback lined up side-by-side behind the quarterback while the fly back can line up almost anywhere on the field, and in motion most times. The fly back should be one of the fastest players on offense; a back that can run between the tackles and take on linebackers to be a receiver who can catch the short and long routes.

No matter if Speckman is running the fly, the wing-T, the wishbone or even the single-wing offense, many people whose lives he’s touched will probably have the Clarion University football team’s schedule on their phone for upcoming games this season for updates and scored.

Yours truly will be one of them.

— Contact Mike Bush at mike@davisenterprise.net. Follow on Twitter: @MBDavisSports.

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