Longtime Peninsula High School football coach Ross Filkins is now also the school’s athletic director. Filkins replaces Phil Willenbrock, who served as AD for three years recently accepted the vice principal position at Ace Academy in Sea-Tac.
Filkins had thought of applying for the AD job before but had never actively pursued it. Filkins, who has taught history and has been the football coach at Peninsula since 1995, wanted to wait until his kids were older before he went after the job. Two of his kids are currently in college, while the other two are students at Peninsula.
“Before, I just wasn’t in a position professionally or personally that I could really pursue it,” Filkins said. “When (Willenbrock) got his administrative position, it kind of created this opening where I had to really make a decision: It was now or maybe never.”
Filkins wanted to make sure he could put all his energy into the job before he went after it.
“I wanted to make sure when my kids were young, that I was there for them,” he said. “After 20 years in the classroom, I was ready for a curveball. I needed to be challenged.”
Filkins will remain the school’s football coach, a job that he’s just as enthusiastic about as ever.
“My work as a football coach is far from accomplished,” Filkins said. “We’re making strides. I wanted to stay with my commitment to build and grow that program into something we can continue to be proud of. We want to turn that into a nationally recognized program. I want to continue to do that work.”
While there might be some logistical challenges with the two positions, Filkins said the athletic director post will make it easier for him to facilitate the recruiting attention his football program receives.
“When you’re a classroom teacher, it’s really difficult,” Filkins said. “A recruiter comes in and they have about 100 schools they need to hit. You’ve really got to take the time to connect with those people or they have to move on. Having office hours as an AD rather than just a planning period, it creates a better situation for myself and the student-athletes.”
Filkins, who has led the Seahawks to three straight league titles in the competitive Class 3A South Puget Sound League, hopes to bring the same culture of success to the AD position.
“I’m just so excited about the new position and how much work there is to be done,” he said. “We have an incredible staff and a great school. I’m the most excited to be able to work with athletes across the board in all the different programs and help guide them and celebrate their successes. High school athletics is one of the coolest things that happens in life; I really want to help these kids understand how special these times are.”
Filkins will look to get settled into the position quickly, and plans to implement new academic goals for the school’s student-athletes. Among his other goals: continuing to push kids to be multisport athletes as well pushing coaches to schedule aggressively outside of league.
While Willenbrock didn’t occupy the post for long, Filkins wants to continue some of his practices — particularly the organizational ones.
“He was very proactive,” Filkins said. “He always had every ‘T’ crossed and every ‘I’ dotted. He’s been awesome helping me with this transition process. I want to make sure we run a very tight ship and as we continue to grow as a school, that we really have pride that we’re doing it the right way and we’re not going to do anything that’s going to compromise our ethics.”