Michael Coe has resigned as South Whidbey’s head football coach.
He said the decision stemmed from a tough commuting schedule, difficulties fielding a full coaching staff due to work obligations and not being able to spend time in the school as a teacher, which stymied his ability to build relationships with students and recruit.
Coe, 37, was hired in May 2015. The Falcons went 1-18 during his two seasons leading the program.
“It’s really disappointing,” Coe said. “I had very high hopes when I came to South Whidbey about making it into a powerhouse.”
“I inherited a really tough situation and I had a lot of people tell me that,” he added.
There may have been other factors as well. It appears there was effort by a group of parents who were dissatisfied by Coe’s performance and preparing to lobby for his termination or resignation as coach.
Jon Chapman, a 1984 graduate of South Whidbey High School and active member of the Falcon sports community, said there was a power play by some parents to mutiny against the coach due to an abysmal record and a lack of player participation.
“It’s a combination of issues, but I am definitely aware of a group of parents who are undermining the program,” Chapman said.
Coe declined to discuss the issue, other than to offer the following statement.
“I was made aware there was a letter, which hurt my feelings deeply, because I had given my heart and soul to build this team into something great and build these kids into great men,” Coe said. “That was definitely very hard for me to take.”
South Whidbey had the smallest rosters in recent memory during Coe’s two seasons, with numbers dipping as low as 14 varsity players. A lack of participation and safety concerns led to the Falcons forfeiting a game against Archbishop Murphy on Sept. 23, and also contributed to the decision to not play a district crossover match that was scheduled for Nov. 4.
Coe is the second coach in three years to resign from the program. Chris Tormey, a former collegiate coach and current linebackers coach for the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League, stepped down after a 2-8 overall season in 2014.
Coe works with autistic students as a paraeducator at Meadowdale High School in Lynnwood and is also a nutritional representative for AdvoCare.
Because he did not work at South Whidbey High School as a teacher, which head coaches typically do, Coe said he was unable to build a rapport with students as a familiar face in the hallways.
“I think if I’d lived over there, I don’t think we’d be having this conversation right now,” Coe said. “Things would probably be different if I could spend all my time in the school.”
Coe was proud of the lessons he taught players that could be used both on and off the field.
Coe is also hopeful that players like Alex Turner, a sophomore first-team all-Cascade Conference offensive lineman, will continue to have success moving forward.
“I hope their time here has been good and they’ve grown and they’ve become better men when they leave,” Coe said.
Following the Falcons’ final game, a 40-6 loss to Cedar Park Christian on Oct. 28, Coe joined Meadowdale High School’s coaching staff as co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. The Mavericks reached the semifinals of the Class 3A state football championships. He will remain on the Mavericks’ coaching staff until he can find another head coaching job. Coe hopes to reach the collegiate level someday.
Athletic Director Paul Lagerstedt said the opening for the head coach position will be posted on the district’s website and on the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association website.
“We’ll miss Mike,” Lagerstedt said. “We’re going to get the best possible leader and football coach for our kids because they deserve it.”