Steve Davis, a longtime assistant in Olympia High School football program, will be its next head coach.
The Olympia School District announced his promotion Tuesday after a search that lasted nearly two months, and drew more than 20 applicants from several states.
“He was definitely the best fit for the team,” said senior Corbin Hartsock, who plays tight end and defensive end for the Bears. “It’s going to be a smooth transition.”
The district quickly began its search to replace Bill Beattie — who spent 22 years at Olympia — after he announced his departure in late January.
Beattie will replace retired coach Sid Otton at Tumwater next fall, and said Olympia’s coaching search “ended up the right way.”
“It’s good for him,” Beattie said. “He put a lot of time in, so I think for him it’s really exciting. …
“He’s the only one that’s been with me for 22 years, so a lot of things we’ve learned over the years, we share a lot of common philosophies.”
In fact, Davis was on Olympia’s coaching staff even before Beattie. He started as an assistant in 1992, and hasn’t left since.
“It’s kind of strange after 25 years of being an assistant to all of the sudden having that title (of head coach), but it’s very exciting,” Davis said.
Davis said much of what he helped Beattie build will carry over.
Most of the assistant coaching staff is projected to return, and — apart from a few twists and tweaks — Olympia’s system will likely remain in tact.
“It’s a good program,” Davis said. “There’s not a whole lot that needs to be done — just keeping everything moving. …
“We’ve got a veteran quarterback (Ketner Young) back and we’ve got a little bit of speed on the outside, which is exciting.”
Hartsock, who was an Olympian All-Area selection at tight end last fall, said Davis offered reassurance to returning players after Beattie announced his resignation.
“He took on the role of head coach while we really didn’t have one,” Hartsock said. “He took all of that responsibility.”
Davis said Hartsock and incoming seniors Ben Pitney and Owen Shea were instrumental at encouraging classmates to show up for workouts during the transitional period.
Hartsock said the seniors adapted the mentality — “Why stop?”
“Not having a head coach, we’ve had record numbers in the weight room five nights a week,” Davis said. “The senior class has been so dedicated through this whole thing.
“That’s been the best part of the whole deal. They kind of have a renewed motivation.”
Davis was offered and accepted the position Thursday, and was approved by the school board on Monday night.
Olympia interviewed four other candidates from Yakima, California, Colorado and Utah.
District athletic director Jeff Carpenter said the majority of the candidates in the applicant pool were from out-of-state.
“He’d had experience at the school. I think that was the main thing,” Carpenter said.
Davis played center for the Bears under longtime coach Bob Dunn in the early 1980s.
He was the program’s center when Olympia advanced to the state semifinals in 1982, and was an all-state selection that season.
Davis played in college at Walla Walla Community College and Wyoming before eventually joining Olympia’s staff. This is his first head coaching job.
Davis said Beattie helped guide him through the application process, and both agreed that the relationship between Olympia and Tumwater will continue to be beneficial for both programs.
“Coach Otton and I have been close over the years, and so many of the things I do are parallels of him,” Beattie said. “He had Pat Alexander and those guys with him that had the same philosophies and values.
“Steve and I, I think, had the same type of relationship and things we thought were important in the program. To me, it made it a natural choice for him to take over.”
Olympia finished third in the Class 4A South Puget Sound League last fall, and advanced to the district playoffs where it lost to Skyview, 38-27.
The Bears haven’t advanced past the district playoffs since 2011.
Olympia begins spring practices on May 30.