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Viking head football coach Frank Naish resigns after 34 season
Football can be a religion in the Northshore community, with Pop Keeney Stadium the place of worship. But one of its most beloved leaders is stepping away from the sidelines and leaving a long legacy of success and stewardship.
For 34 seasons Frank Naish has led the Inglemoor High School football team onto the field and he has recently decided to step away to spend more time with his family.
“I grew up with football, so I only really know one thing,” said Naish, whose father Mickey was the head football coach at Bishop Blanchet High School. “There is a part of life I didn’t know existed.”
He finishes his football career as the winningest head coach in KingCo history with a record of 189-137. Jimmy Carter was president when Naish began coaching at Inglemoor High School.
“Over time, I would say I got to coach in the best league in the state,” said Naish.
His teams won the league title six times and advanced to the state title game in 1993, ultimately losing to Tumwater 33-7.
“Part of the fun of that game was that we got to play in the Kingdome,” said Naish, who noted that having his son and daughter there as a ball boy and ball girl made it even more special.
Naish said that he will miss planning and instructing with his four loyal assistant coaches, Jeff Skelly, Dave Allemeier, Ray Moody and Sam Merriman, who have been at the coach’s side his entire Viking tenure.
“I had the title of head coach but we all had a part of the head coaching,” said Naish.
Naish has given his professional life to the Inglemoor High School community.
He is also resigning as the school’s athletic director, a position he has held for 18 years.
“It was good being able to represent the school,” said Naish. “I thought it would be nice to have an athletic director that had coaching experience and understands the pressures of being coach.”
The coach said the normal pressures of being a coach helped him make up his mind and contributed to the timing of his resignation.
“One of the things is that there is an accumulative effect over a long period of time,” said Naish. “To say that it didn’t have a part in my decision would be naive. Some parents get upset over the color of socks that you wear but some have very legitimate concerns.”
A rough season with a 2-7 record didn’t help relations with some parents.
“Dave (Allemeier) and I talked about (my retirement) last winter, so it wasn’t a quick decision,” said Naish. “This year was frustrating for everyone.”
Naish began his career at O’Dea, coaching the team and teaching for five years at the school. One of his students was professional golfer Fred Couples.
“It was the economics,” said Naish about taking the job at Inglemoor High School. “My wife was pregnant at the time and wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.”
Naish said that there are two things that he will miss from coaching, his athletes and the community.
“When you have coached as long as I have, it is the kids,” said Naish, who will remain as a math teacher at the school. “Inglemoor is blessed with nice and gracious kids that do what you ask.”
Naish said that he keeps a list of all the kids who have played for him, from the star quarterback to the third stringers who were just happy to get on the field.
“You tend to forget individual games but you never forget the kids,” said Naish, who leaves as the state’s longest-tenured head football coach.
But those Friday night lights will always burn bright in Naish’s soul: “Pop Keeney on a Friday night, it makes you keep wanting to coach. That is what I will miss - the community.”