High School Sports

There’s a lot of new high school football coaches – let’s get to know them

Returning to his alma mater after a successful career as head coach of the Olympia Bears, Bill Beattie is joined by former T-Birds’ head coach Sid Otton (right), whom Beattie played for during his high school years at Tumwater.
Returning to his alma mater after a successful career as head coach of the Olympia Bears, Bill Beattie is joined by former T-Birds’ head coach Sid Otton (right), whom Beattie played for during his high school years at Tumwater. sbloom@theolympian.com

And then there were five.

That’s how many high schools in the South Sound region will open the first practices of the 2017 football season Wednesday and have a coach who has been with their program for 20-plus seasons. It’s half as many as existed last year.

For the first time in 43 years, Sid Otton won’t be orchestrating Tumwater’s first practice. Don Clegg won’t be at Wilson for the first time in 29 years, nor will Marty Osborn be at Kentridge (26 years), George Fairhart at Eatonville (24 years) or Bill Beattie at Olympia (22 years).

Beattie’s now at his alma mater Tumwater and Fairhart’s at Gig Harbor instead of the pastures of Eatonville. Clegg is there, too, working with Tides’ defense and defensive backs.

And now Tahoma’s Tony Davis and Orting’s Marty Parkhurst are the old-timers around these parts – both entering their 24th seasons at their respective schools.

“Gosh, I feel old,” said Davis, the former fourth-round draft pick in 1985 by the Seattle Seahawks.

The South Sound got a lot younger.

There’s still John Robak entering his 23rd year at Spanaway Lake; Matt Hinkle entering year No. 23 at Shelton; Ross Filkins 23 years at Peninsula; and Federal Way has John Meagher for the 21st consecutive year.

But in 2002, seven coaches were preparing for their first day at a local school – including Auburn’s Gordy Elliott, River Ridge’s Steve Schultz and Sumner’s Keith Ross. Fifteen years later, there’s 12 first-year coaches entering the South Sound fray — which includes more than 60 high schools.

“The coaches who can be at one place 20-plus years is really getting thinned,” Beattie said. “For me, it was just about coming back home, but for other guys, it can be tough to deal with all the pressures.

“It’s a year-round deal now and to survive it takes having other people who can take on big responsibilities for you. That’s what I had (at Olympia) and that’s how Coach Otton lasted so long. But in a lot of areas, it’s you by yourself doing everything.”

Then there’s some nightmarish parents to deal with, social media, slashing budgets, increasing time commitments and small stipends for big roles to name a few.

“To me, it’s a different world,” Davis said. “I’ve tried to sit in my office and pinpoint when and how it evolved. But it’s been a slow evolution, and that’s where we’re at.

“But as crazy as it seems, I still enjoy it, and I still love doing it. You get relationships with players that go back 24 years. I’ve been to probably more weddings than I can count on my two hands. Or there’s the first time a player introduces you to one of their kids. It makes it worth doing what you do, but it definitely takes having a wife and family who are on board.

“I don’t even know if my wife likes football, to be honest, but she cares about me and my players.”

So – who might be the next 20-year coach?

Here’s all the new faces you’ll see at South Sound schools:

BILL BEATTIE

05BillBeattie
Bill Beattie Tony Overman Staff file

School: Tumwater

League: 2A Evergreen

Coaching philosophy: Mine was indoctrinated in me under coach (Sid) Otton. The object of high school football and high school athletics is to develop solid young citizens that can go out in the community and be successful people. That’s always the basis – we want to build great people who can go out and do great things for our communities and our society and that’s the crutch of hopefully what we are trying to accomplish in high school athletics. And hopefully the reason we play is to have fun. It’s got to be fun and I think we as a society take this stuff way to seriously sometimes and this is a thing with high school kids and about having some fun.

Is a hot dog a sandwich? It’s a meal to me. I love hot dogs. It’s kind of like how I hate the word pasta. It’s just noodles to me. Sandwich is this big broad umbrella that encompasses hamburgers, hot dogs and all that stuff. Anytime that you put stuff between bread the question becomes is the bun bread? But for me, a hot dog, sandwich, hamburger – they are all in the same category and I love them all. So you bet it’s a sandwich. Put some mustard on that and relish and you’re set.

JOSH BELLINGER

Josh Bellinger Chief Leschi
Josh Bellinger Courtesy

School: Chief Leschi

League: 2B Pacific

Coaching philosophy: It’s similar to a three-dimensional coaching philosophy. My goal is not only to coach the kids in the physical realm, but I want them to be mentally prepared in academics and school and life and I want to deal with heart matters and have them be well-rounded individuals. I want them to be great human beings as well as great football players. One of the things I talk about is the whole athlete, working with those three dimensions and getting them to think about if I’m doing things off the field the right way then in turn on the field will be more special.

Who is your favorite president? I would say Abraham Lincoln. For one, I went to Lincoln High School. But definitely what he did to advance equal rights in this country for people of color and of all backgrounds at a time when that was a divisive issue.

STEVE DAVIS

Steve Davis, Olympia
Steve Davis Courtesy

School: Olympia

League: 4A SPSL

Coaching philosophy: We look at the student as a whole and not just the football player. If all we’ve done is made them better football players we have failed. We’re really looking at the total picture with these kids and taking kids and turning them into great young men. That might sound cliché, but it’s what I’m all about.

What do you think of millennials and how do you handle them? I think there’s so much information out there now for young people and they are so dependent on their cellphone and the internet that there is so much lost on the other end of that. They are smarter, they know exactly what they need to do to get the grades and into better colleges. But so much of the common sense-type stuff is lost now like a simple handshake. We’ll actually teach our kids how to shake hands.

GEORGE FAIRHART

George Fairhart, Gig Harbor
George Fairhart Peter Haley Staff file

School: Gig Harbor

League: 3A SSC

Philosophy: That’s changed as I’ve gotten older. Now we’re more about team-building. We’re constantly trying to build our team, whether it’s offense, defense or character and trying to get our kids to play together. When I was younger I think it was just about winning and that’s still important, but the focus is on building our team and winning is a byproduct of that.

Which do you prefer – dogs or cats? I’m a no-pet person. I’ve just never had pets. When I was a kid we had horses and they were a pain in the butt to take care of.

GAVIN KRALIK

Gavin Kralik, Eatonville
Gavin Kralik Courtesy

School: Eatonville

League: 2A SPSL Sound

Coaching philosophy: It’s simply to use football to help prepare our kids to be successful in the areas that matter most in life. We spend a lot of time coaching, so it’s not worth it if it’s not going to have a lasting impact, in my mind.

What is your favorite song right now? That would be a Christian hymn called “It is well with my soul.” And that’s probably been my favorite for about 18 years.

BOBBY MILLER

Bobby Miller Life Christian
Bobby Miller Courtesy

School: Life Christian

League: 2B Pacific

Coaching philosophy: The premise of my philosophy is focusing on the process, not the end result. We want FAT players and FAT coaches, which means we want faithful, available and teachable. That’s what we’re looking for. … Our job is to be obedient to (God) and play as hard as we possibly can. We call it a To-By-For philosophy – we play according to the word of God, by the power of God and for the glory of God. We literally carry a big two-by-four stick as a symbol of that and that’s what we’re playing for – to honor God.

What is your ideal date night? Hopefully my wife will appreciate this. We’re going to go play nine holes of golf, then we’re going to go to Buffalo Wild Wings and dominate some large buffalo dry rub wings. Then we’re going to take a walk around Bradley Lake Park, and we’ll end the night with some karaoke. I’ll be kareokeing some Michael Bublé because that’s (my wife’s) favorite.

NICK MULLEN

Nick Mullen, Timberline
Nick Mullen Tony Overman Staff file

School: Timberline

League: 3A SSC

Coaching philosophy: If you’re not in pursuit of a competitive edge in everything you do, then that means you are accepting mediocrity. It’s easy to be mediocre, it’s hard to be great. But you put the work in and you don’t sacrifice the little things, then you’ll be successful in everything. My coaching philosophy isn’t just wins and losses, it’s about doing your best in the school, the classroom and the community. And if you are doing all the right things by your kids, you’ll win games.

What is your hobby outside of football? Working out and mowing my lawn. I got a push mower and it’s a nice little unit that I’ve had for about 10 years. I take good care of this thing, man.

BRETT OGATA

Brett Ogata, Kentridge (2)
Brett Ogata Courtesy

School: Kentridge

League: 4A NPSL Cascade

Coaching philosophy: My responsibility is to win games with class and integrity while helping people improve value to their lives and build lasting relationships. My first couple of years I didn’t really have a set philosophy and one of my good friends asked me to write it out and think about it so last summer I really sat down and developed this one and wrote it down. I want to win games, but teaching my kids integrity is a huge thing for me and sports is about building relationships. So I want them to feel connected to me, my coaches and this program.

Tell us a joke: This is really the only joke I can remember and it’s bad: How do you know if Lady Gaga is alive? You poke her face.

AMAD ROBINSON

Amad Robinson, Wilson
Amad Robinson Courtesy

School: Wilson

League: 3A PCL

Coaching philosophy: I’m a details kind of guy. I believe in taking care of the little things and if you take care of the little things, the outcome will be in your favor. I want to teach these kids transferable skills that they can use both on and off the field. I think it’s really important that they not only learn about football, but learn life skills, resiliency, effort, teamwork, time management, self initiation and things like that. So teach transferable skills that will help them on and off the field, focus on the little things, suspend judgment and the outcome will be good.

If you could be any celebrity, who would you be? I would like to be Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I feel like I’m gracious and militant in a good way and fair and those were all his dreams. I would love, if I could be someone else, I would be him and walk in his shoes, live that struggle and prevail and then get a holiday named after me.

JEFF SCOTT

Jeff Scott, Kent-Meridian
Jeff Scott Staff file

School: Kent-Meridian

League: 4A NPSL Cascade

Coaching philosophy: I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, so if you are familiar with the Steelers, you know — good defense, solid kicking game, strong discipline and big work ethic. I feel like I want to bring a blend of Chuck Knoll and Mike Tomlin.

What’s your best dance move? The two-step. The two-step helped me get my wife.

DARREN TINNERSTET (Interim)

Darren Tinnerstet Capital
Darren Tinnerstet Courtesy

School: Capital

League: 3A SSC

Coaching philosophy: We will be one of the most prepared, organized and mentally tough teams come Friday night. That’s what we strive to work on throughout the whole season, is just to be always prepared for any situation that can be thrown at us. It’s a continuation from the program with my little twist on it, but it also comes from when I played in the early 90s. A lot of it is the same and it’s something that’s engrained here at Capital.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be? In Kauai (Hawaii). That’s where my wife and I went on our honeymoon and it was absolutely beautiful and low-key and everybody is in bed by 8 and up by 5 and that’s kind of my style. But everybody we talked to said you have to have three jobs to live there, so that’s probably not going to happen unless I win the Mega Millions.

CORY VARTANIAN

Cory Vartanian, South Kitsap
Cory Vartanian Kitsap Sun Courtesy

School: South Kitsap

League: 4A SPSL

Coaching philosophy: Doing everything in my power to put resources in front of our kids in order to be successful.

What are the acceptable toppings allowed on a pizza? Acceptable toppings would be anything meat. You have to have meat on a pizza. If it’s fruit, if it’s a vegetable, whatever, that can’t happen.

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677

@TJCotterill

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