A couple of signs sit by the front door on the porch.
“There are four seasons: Winter, spring, summer and football,” reads one.
“We interrupt this family … for football season,” says the other.
That must be Auburn High School football coach Gordy Elliott’s place.
His family gatherings are equal part coaching clinic, and his immediate relatives stretch to almost every corner of the South Sound.
Elliott’s sons-in-law are Curtis coach Chris Paulson and Gig Harbor coach Aaron Chantler. His daughters, Amanda and Jenna, are teachers at Sumner, his wife, Sue, teaches at Graham-Kapowsin and shares a class with G-K coach Eric Kurle.
“The girls started enforcing timeouts from football,” Sue Elliott said, “where they have to go an hour without talking about football.”
“But then we just shift to baseball,” Chantler said.
Gordon “Gordy” Elliott is back on top of the football family this year. Auburn is 5-0 and already has two more wins than all of last season — which was Elliott’s second losing season in 15 years as the school’s coach. He’s been in football as a player or coach every year since 1962.
But he had to sit back and watch last year as Paulson and Chantler both made the 4A state playoffs with their schools.
“I had to? Or I got to?” Elliott responded.
“It is nicer being on this side, for me. But I enjoy it when they have success and are doing well. It’s just as exciting seeing these guys do well and I feel sorry for them going through the downs because I know what it feels like. I’ve been through plenty of them.”
At least one of these three coaches has reached the playoffs every year since 2005. And at least one has won their league title in seven of the past 10 years.
They’ll sit at Elliott’s dining room table with their steno pads talking about plays, formations and defensive philosophies. They said they’ve occasionally brought all their assistant coaches over, too.
I remember I’ve never been so nervous to come to a house to meet parents. I knew it had to happen eventually, but it was going to be weird not meeting her dad in a realm that wasn’t a coaching clinic.
Gig Harbor coach Aaron Chantler
Chantler remembered his Gig Harbor team beating Tahoma in the district playoffs in 2013. That was after Paulson’s Kentlake team and Elliott’s Auburn had beat Tahoma earlier in the year.
“(Tahoma coach Tony Davis) walked over to me after the game and he was like, ‘I should have known you guys were all running the same dang defense,’ ” Chantler said.
Paulson partly credited his first league title with Kentlake in 2011 to Auburn. Kentlake followed Auburn through its schedule, so Elliott would play a team and Paulson would get the scouting report afterward.
“My errors are their trials,” Elliott said.
Paulson was the offensive coordinator at Auburn Riverside, his alma mater, when his team got steamrolled by Auburn, 61-6, in 2006.
The next day he met Elliott’s daughter, Amanda — not knowing who her father was.
“She asked what I did and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m a football coach,’ and she says, ‘Oh, my dad is a football coach,’ ” Paulson recalled. “I was like, ‘Where at?’
“She tells me Auburn. … ‘Oh, you mean the guys that killed us last night?’ ”
Coincidentally, Chantler met Elliott two weeks later.
Auburn beat Shorecrest in the playoffs, and Chantler was covering the game as a reporter for The News Tribune. He interviewed Elliott afterward.
Chantler would later become an assistant coach at Wilson, his alma mater. That’s where he met Jenna, who was the school’s volleyball coach.
“I found out right away that Gordy was her dad and it almost made me not want to date Jenna,” Chantler said.
“I remember I’ve never been so nervous to come to a house to meet parents. I knew it had to happen eventually, but it was going to be weird not meeting her dad in a realm that wasn’t a coaching clinic.”
Sue made Elliott tell the story of “Romeo.” It wasn’t his real name, but that’s what Elliott used to call a boy who had been hanging out with Amanda. When Elliott got home one day from some recruiting visits while he was coaching at the University of Puget Sound, “Romeo” was there.
“I told him, ‘The only time you can ever be in the house is when it’s daylight and I’m home and I’m in a good mood — and those three things very rarely happen,” Elliott said.
It worked out better for Chantler and Paulson.
It’s great having these guys who I can relate to and don’t have to try to figure out ways to entertain them at family deals. And it gives me the opportunity to continue coaching once I retire as a head coach. It gives me a couple options — whoever loses out between these two has to take me.
Auburn football coach Gordon “Gordy” Elliott
Aaron and Jenna Chantler have been married for five years and have two boys. Chris and Amanda Paulson have been married for nine years and have a girl.
They all live within 10 minutes of each other. And Elliott requested that both Aaron and Chris introduce him when he was inducted into the Washington State Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014, even though most inductees were allowed one person to introduce them.
“I think if it was up to Sue, they (Amanda and Jenna) would have never even looked at football coaches,” Gordy Elliott joked.
“That’s not true. I was happy for them,” said Sue Elliott, a former cross country and track and field coach. “But it’s funny to hear them complain, ‘They are never home,’ or ‘They’re always glued to the computers.’ I’m like, ‘Gee, really? And you guys would get mad at me when I’d tell (Gordy) to shut it down?’ ”
Sue’s brother is Mark Torgerson, the athletic director at Spanaway Lake and former football coach at Kentlake.
So terms such as jet sweep, spread and pistol option are necessary vocabulary in the Elliott house.
“What I was worried about was if the girls had married some guys who were totally different and I would have had to be nice to when I didn’t really like them,” Gordy Elliott said. “Two great things that Amanda and Jenna did was give me grandkids (three) and great son-in-laws. It’s great having these guys who I can relate to and don’t have to try to figure out ways to entertain them at family deals.
“And it gives me the opportunity to continue coaching once I retire as a head coach. It gives me a couple options — whoever loses out between these two has to take me.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
Auburn High School football coach Gordy Elliott and his two sons-in-law — Curtis coach Chris Paulson and Gig Harbor coach Aaron Chantler — are quite the football family. At least one of them has reached the postseason every year since 2005, and at least one has won a league title in seven of the past 10 years. Here’s a look at their head-coach résumés:
University of Puget Sound (1994-2001)
Columbia River (1986-93)
Mount Rainier (2008-09)
Gig Harbor (2012-present)