Falcon football head coach Chris Tormey is one and done at South Whidbey High School.
Tormey accepted a job as the linebackers coach for the Montreal Alouettes, a Canadian Football League. Despite a long career as a college coach, this is Tormey’s first stint working with professionals.
“It kind of came out of the blue,” Tormey said in a phone interview Thursday morning. “But I’m really excited.”
The Washington native said he reports to the team for the start of the season in late May and plans to split the year between Montreal and Whidbey, where he and his wife bought a home last year.
Tormey came to Whidbey following his position as the defensive coordinator for the University of Wyoming’s football team. He was fired in the midst of the 2013 football season due to the team’s performance. The Falcons were searching for a football coach when athletic director Kelly Kirk got a surprising email from Tormey inquiring about the job.
In Tormey’s only season at South Whidbey, the Falcons struggled to a 2-5 finish in Cascade Conference play and went 2-8 overall. That record represented the worst finish in at least five years for South Whidbey, which consistently finished 4-6 or 5-5 in league games.
The record painted an incomplete picture, however, as three of the losses came on a combined 13 points. A cadre of Falcons made the all-Cascade Conference lists, and senior running back Deven Damerau was voted the league’s co-offensive most valuable player.
“The program really turned over after last year,” said Falcon athletic director Kelly Kirk. “We lost a dozen or so seniors and every one of them was critical to what was going on.”
“He and his staff really did a great job of coaching kids up,” he added.
In between coaching at a Division I college and a 1A high school, Tormey had attended a coaches convention and left his resume with the Alouettes. They hired someone else, and Tormey joined the Falcons.
Earlier this year, the Alouettes came calling, interviewed Tormey and offered him a contract. It was a tough choice.
“I had to make a decision to stay or whether to go,” Tormey said. “It wasn’t easy.”
Tormey is himself a former collegiate linebacker at the University of Idaho before becoming an assistant coach at the University of Washington. Taking another opportunity to work with between six and eight players professionally at his old position was a chance he couldn’t miss.
“At the end of the day, I had to be true to myself,” he said.
During his brief time with South Whidbey, Tormey oversaw a weightlifting class and the after-school strength and conditioning program. Since his resignation from the Falcons, his former assistant coach Alex Heilig has taken over the reins. Tormey also credited the school district’s leadership and the high school’s administrators for supporting Falcon athletics.
“If it’s a priority at the administrative level, (success) is going to happen eventually,” Tormey said.
Kirk said he planned on hiring a coach by the school’s spring break in April. Stability in the coach and campaigning for the program are traits he’s looking for.
“I tell this to all the coaches. You have to be a pied piper for your sport,” Kirk said.