Former Garfield coach selected for VHS football

A new coach will lead the Vashon Pirates football team this year and was set to begin yesterday, when summer practices got under way.

Kelvin Goliday, a football coach with more than 12 years of experience, led a large field of applicants for the job, said Vashon High School athletic director Stephanie Spencer. Former head football coach Clay Eastly stepped down from the program earlier this year.

The Vashon Island School District board of directors unanimously confirmed Goliday’s appointment last week. The selection committee — Spencer, a student, two coaches and a parent — was impressed with Goliday’s charisma, breadth of experience and his interest in staying on Vashon long-term to develop a program, Spencer said.

“He seemed like a good fit for our needs,” she said.

Goliday, 38 and a former Marine, most recently served as the head football coach at Garfield High School in Seattle and prior to that served in a variety of football coaching positions at both the high school and college levels.

In an interview last week, Goliday said he was drawn to Vashon for its community. He grew up in the small town of Oxford, Miss., he said, and believes small communities are more tight-knit than larger places.

“It’s what I have always wanted,” he said.

Acknowledging that Vashon’s small football team has struggled in recent years, he noted that it is normal for teams to go through cycles.

“It’s something most high school coaches deal with,” he said.

To strengthen the team, he said, he hopes to draw from as many students as possible and will work to do that in part by how he leads.

“It’s important to make it as fun as it can be,” he said.

He also plans to rely on simple techniques that he knows work, he said, and possibly partner with former coach Clay Eastly on developing a youth football program so that players enter high school with more experience behind them.

In recent years, issues about football’s safety, particularly head injuries and the effects of multiple concussions on players, have frequently been in the news.  Goliday said he has paid a lot of attention to this issue and coaches accordingly.

“We teach the safest forms of tackling that we can,” he said. “There is not a lot of high-impact tackling.”

Most injuries happen in practice, he noted, as more time is spent in practice than in games. To help minimize the risk of injury, once the season is under way, his teams do not practice with full contact, he said.

The majority of Goliday’s experience is at the high school level, according to his resume, but also includes a year serving as the defensive assistant for the Sound Shockers, a semi-pro football team and two years at the college level.

But he prefers coaching high schoolers, he said.

“I get more enjoyment out of high school. You do it because you love it” he said.

In 2011, in his most recent coaching position at Garfield High School, Goliday made a decision in a game that resulted in the team forfeiting and a suspension for him. According to news reports at the time, he said he had been concerned about slow calls throughout the game and pulled his team off the field for a timeout after a fumble recovery was awarded to the opponent. His players did not return to the field after two minutes, and Goliday was given delay-of-game penalties and ejected from the game.

At the time, Goliday said, his primary concern was for player safety — a position he still stresses and says was lost in the flurry attention to the incident.

“At the moment, I was trying to do the right thing,” he said.

Though many players’ parents still support his decision, he said, in retrospect, he wishes he handled the situation differently, but he learned from the experience.

“If I make a mistake, I reflect on it and correct what I did wrong,” he said.

Currently, Goliday is finishing his master’s degree in nonprofit management from Argosy University in Seattle. His wife Meaghan recently completed her degree in secondary education and will look for a teaching position for this fall. She grew up on Vashon, he noted, and her parents, Michael and Marcy McCarthy, still live in Gold Beach.

Kelvin, Meaghan and their 2-year-old son Giovanni live in Seattle, but they hope to move to Vashon or at least closer to the island, he said. In the meantime, though, he is happy to take on the commute.

“It’s love,” he said.

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