Story and photos by Tracy Record and Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
Football season is months away, but West Seattle High School‘s new head coach Marcis Fennell isn’t wasting a minute.
Wednesday, he found out he got the job. Today, he was on campus after school to meet with his players.
And that wasn’t a trip across town – that was a trip from out of state. Fennell is finishing up his Ph.D. studies (in sports leadership) at the University of Idaho, where he played football in the mid-’00s.
We got the chance to talk with Coach Fennell this afternoon in the WSHS Gym, after his introductory meeting with players.
He’s no stranger to Seattle, having been on the coaching staff at Garfield High School, and says it was always in his plan to head back west, so he applied for the WSHS job, which opened after Tom Burggraff announced his retirement from a long coaching career following the 2016 season. His wife has family and friends in the area, and they are looking forward to having their two young kids have same-age playmates around, so he’s excited about the move.
“I really see that West Seattle can be successful,” he told us. “The Metro League is a pretty flat ground – aside from Eastside Catholic and O’Dea. … I know (WSHS) is a good school and a good community.’
Since he just accepted the job, he hasn’t put together his staff yet, but hopes to do so within the next few weeks. He’s looking at a “college approach” and planning to focus himself on what he’s getting a doctorate in – leadership. “My goal is to cultivate young men,” he explained, while he’ll have his staff focus on the technical points of the sport itself.
Fennell is originally from Southern California, where he went to high school at Long Beach Polytechnic. After he played for the Idaho Vandals, an injury got in the way when he tried out for the NFL, he says. So he took his leadership aspirations, and his football skill, into coaching. And now, he’ll use all of that and then some as the Wildcats’ head coach: “We want to bring a sense of pride back to West Seattle.”
The school has a long, proud history as it celebrates its centennial year, and it’s had recent success in other sports – including this year’s boys and girls basketball teams both making it to state – so the tradition, and the will, are there. New WSHS athletic director Corey Sorenson is excited too.
“Full go,” said Coach Fennell. “That’s what I’m planning.”
But in the short run, he has to head back to Idaho to finish the work of becoming Dr. Fennell.