Ray Horton has credited George Nordi for his own coaching success.
Ahmad Rashad spoke of him in his book.
The man who championed much for high school sports in Tacoma died Wednesday at Tacoma General Hospital after a 24-year battle with congestive heart failure. He was 78.
His son, Lakes athletic director Scott Nordi, said this only means George Nordi is blowing his whistle and coaching in heaven.
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But for Tacoma, the city lost one of its greatest high school sports figures.
“In my eyes he sure is,” Scott Nordi said.
George Nordi brought the Mount Tahoma High School football team back-to-back 4A state championships in 1979 and 1980, becoming the first coach in state history to win back-to-back big-school titles. Only four coaches have won back-to-back 4A titles since (Chuck Tarbox with Juanita, Bob Lucey twice with Curtis, Tom Ingles with Kentwood and Mat Taylor twice with Skyline).
Nordi was 51-15 in seven seasons.
But he was far more than a football coach.
Nordi spent his entire 35-year teaching career at Mount Tahoma before retiring in 1996. He took over as the school’s athletic director in 1982, was a two-time president of the Tacoma Athletic Commission, and also coached boys swimming, tennis and wrestling.
Scott Nordi was a sophomore and junior on the football team for those back-to-back title runs, playing for his father. He said he’s been impressed by his father’s friends, players and students who have reached out to the family in the past week.
He said Rashad, the Mount Tahoma graduate turned NFL player turned celebrity sportscaster, spent at least 15 minutes talking on the phone with LuAnn, George’s wife of 55 years, Sunday night.
Horton, another Mt. Tahoma grad who is now the defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, wrote a Facebook post the day after George Nordi’s death. He once credited Nordi as one of the most pivitol coaches in his life.
“Those guys stayed close with my dad all throughout their professional careers,” Scott Nordi said. “Vince Goldsmith is another one.
“Whether they were kids who played for him or were in his classes, going back to the 60s and 70s —the people who have reached out and come out of the woodwork and remembered who he was and what he meant is pretty special.”
Scott Nordi followed the footsteps of his father, later becoming the football coach at Foss after graduating from Mount Tahoma before being hired at Lakes as its athletic director.
“He made me the person I am,” Scott Nordi said.
George Nordi graduated from Bellarmine Prep in 1955 and the University of Puget Sound in 1961. He later earned his masters in Physical Education and Recreation from Oregon State in 1963.
A funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m. March 15 at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Tacoma.