(Tumwater, WA) The Olympian’s Lauren Smith broke the news Saturday that Tumwater High School has selected the man to replace a legend and to many it comes as a bit of a surprise and to others it was a no-brainer from the beginning of the discussions. Bill Beattie, according to Smith’s reporting (link to Olympian story) will be the next Tumwater coach and when we say next it is an extremely short list. When the 57th year of Tumwater High school begins next September Beattie will be the 4th Head Coach in school history. There is still school board approval to make it official but all signs say Beattie will be wearing Kelly Green next fall.
Beattie will follow Chuck Loete, Rip Johnson and for the last 43 years, the most winningest coach in State history Sid Otton. Beattie made his own mark as the Olympia Bears Head Coach for the past 22 years racking up an impressive 163 wins and a perennial participant in the postseason. This is why many did not believe Beattie would throw his hat into the ring. Dropping down from the 4A level with all that success didn’t make sense for many until you understand where Beattie came from.
As we chronicled in our 10-part series on the history of Tumwater Football under Coach Sid Otton, chapter 2 may be the most important. Chapter 2 was simply titled 1977. Beattie was a senior for the 1977 season (Class of 78) and as a senior heading into that year had only experienced a total of 3 varsity wins, 2 in 1975 and 1 in 76. 1977 was Coach Otton’s 4th season and he had a combined record of 7-20 entering 1977 and the pressure was on.
The 1977 team made a historic run finishing 9-2 and advancing to the State Play-offs for the first time in school history. Beattie was a huge part of that team as a starting offensive and defensive tackle. Tumwater played in the Black Hills League at that time, a league of 14 schools divided into 2 7-team divisions. Beattie was named Defensive Player of the Year and went on to be the 1st All-State player in Tumwater history.
Beattie would go on to play 4-years at Central Washington University, started as an offensive tackle for 3 years and in 1982 was Honorable Mention All-American. Beattie would take one swing at professional football and was invited to try-out for the Philadelphia Stars of the now defunct USFL. The try-out was a 1-day affair that began early in the morning and the Stars cut throughout the day. Beattie made it deep into the afternoon before being one of the final cuts. Following that experience Beattie focused on his teaching and coaching career.
In an earlier commentary about selecting the next T-Bird Coach to lead the Football program it was clear the administration starting at the top with Superintendent Bash it was important that the coach not only understand the culture that has been built in Tumwater but would continue it.
As much as wins and State Championships have been associated with the Tumwater program it is the loyalty, the lessons taught and the example set that is the heart of “the T-Bird way”. Coach Otton was once asked how successful a particular team was and his answer was ask me in 20 years. The meaning being it’s not what is accomplished today but what are life lessons taught and learned and stay with you for a lifetime.
Game philosophy, x’s and o’s can vary and strategy can all be debated but that is not what T-Bird Football is about, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Under Coach Otton there were dramatic shifts in offensive and defensive sets and philosophies but what did not waver was the core values that made this program one of the most successful athletic programs in state history.
So who better to continue this legacy than someone who has experienced it? With the selection of Beattie not only are you bringing someone who experienced many of the traditions that shape the T-Bird culture you have someone who was their first. The 1977 team was the first to experience Unity Camp. Many of the mantras were born and/or inspired by the 1977 team like goal setting and the never give up attitude that courses through the veins of hundreds of T-Bird football alumni and one of the leaders of that special 1977 team has come home to step into some very large shoes.
The specialness of the T-bird football program is hard to totally explain without experiencing it and for those who don’t quite get what all the hoopla is about then consider this; Beattie steps away from a program where he was revered as a coach, he was 163 and 63 went to the play-offs nearly every single year of his 22 years at the helm of a 4A school and sent more than 60 kids to play at the college level from D-1 to Community College. Yet Beattie was willing to step away to a 2A level to take on the program where his whole football life began. Beattie understands the pressure of stepping into such a high profile program and position and he knows what it takes to be successful.
We are willing to bet if you ask Beattie how successful he was after his 1st year as Tumwater’s new football coach, regardless of the record, regardless of how far they go in play-offs or even if they make the play-offs his answer will be the same…ask me in 20 years, because that is what the T-Bird way is all about.