fter six years as head football coach at Vashon High School, Clay Eastly is stepping down. His announcement, made last week, ends another chapter of an association Eastly has had with island football that spans decades: first as a player in the early 1980’s, then as an assistant coach at VHS, a youth football coach, McMurray head coach and the past years heading up the program at VHS.
Although Eastly has said that his primary purpose in leaving the football program is to spend more time with his two children, he also has intentions to get back to his roots in working with children and help restart a youth football program on the island.
“The key to being successful at the high school level is the continuity that comes up through a youth feeder program,” Eastly said. “And there is the fact that my son really wants to play football,” he added with a grin.
Eastly’s son is a second grader at Chautauqua Elementary School and, if all goes as intended, Eastly, who also owns a residential painting company, hopes the island will field a third and fourth grade team as early as next year.
During his tenure as head coach of VHS, Eastly was awarded Nisqually League Coach of the Year and All-Area Coach of the Year in 2008. He coached three VHS teams to the state playoffs (2008, 2009 and 2010) and guided many athletes to success both on the field and in the classroom. Pirate football players have garnered dozens of all-league awards, including Nisqually League Player of the year, All State Team,and Distinguished Scholarship in Academic Achievement. Some of those players, many whom Eastly coached from the sixth grade on, include Andy Didrickson, Hamzah Griffin, Kyle Bakker, Kyle York, Timmy Jovanovich, Adrian Arceo, Nathan Betz and Nick Fox-Edele.
Eastly drew other coaching talent to the program and credits his mentor, Paul Walroff, as a key contributor to his coaching success. When asked to reflect about guiding many young athletes both on and off the field, Eastly counts himself as the luckiest of all. “Watching boys mature into men who understand how to deal with adversity has given me so much,” he said.
The coaching position was posted by the school district, and VHS athletic director Stephanie Spencer will guide the selection process for hiring a new coach, a position she hopes to have filled by the end of April. The process, she admitted, will be a tough one. Eastly has left big shoes to fill.
— Mary Kay Rauma is an island writer and the mother of a former Pirate football player.