Hisaw brings energy to Wa-Hi gridiron

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WALLA WALLA - No truer statement has ever been made than when Wa-Hi track - and new head football - coach Eric Hisaw said, "I think I have more energy than a normal person."

Hisaw is entering his 14th season as track coach at Wa-Hi; he is a collegiate basketball official; a strength and conditioning coach at Whitman College; director of the Blue Devil Athletic Development summer program; volunteer youth coach for Walla Walla Parks and Recreation and Walla Walla YMCA; and volunteer with the Boy Scouts and at the Christian Aid Center.

If you need another example of Hisaw's extraordinary energy level, ask any U-B sports writer that has desperately tried to keep up with Hisaw's rapid-fire report of Wa-Hi track results over the phone. It's the best test of typing speed I've ever had.

And this fall, Hisaw brings that energy to the helm of the Blue Devil football program. He's no stranger to Wa-Hi sidelines serving as a quarterback, wide receiver, linebacker and defensive back assistant coach from 1997 to 2006, and returning as a volunteer assistant last fall after a four-year absence.

But commanding a football program has always been his goal, and Hisaw's up to the task.

"I'm really excited about it," he said. "It's a heck of an opportunity, and a heck of a challenge. It's something you don't get a chance to do (very often). It's a huge responsibility, but one I'm really looking forward to."

That's a little different take on the situation from a year ago, when Wa-Hi's longtime grid coach Marc Yonts had left the position, Matt Hamlin out of Skyview High in Vancouver, Wash., was appointed and then abruptly withdrew, and Blue Devil assistant Mike Gobel took over.

At the time, Hisaw was reluctant to consider the position.

A year later, enter Amy Hisaw, Eric's wife and former Wa-Hi volleyball, basketball and track coach.

"My wife makes this awesome," Eric said. "Last year, I wasn't sure (about applying for the position). But (this year) she said, ‘When we got married, you said you knew you wanted to be a head football coach. I want you to do this. I'm 100 percent behind you. We'll juggle our schedules, and make this work. I think it will be good for you, and for the kids to see you on the football field.'"

The Hisaws' children, 6- and 8-year-old boys, also played a part in Eric accepting the football head-coach position.

"Last year, the boys were younger," Eric Hisaw said. "They're more self sufficient now, and understand schedules a little more. And I think I was more ready for it mentally. Since they're older now, it makes it easier."

And, while Amy isn't on the sideline calling the shots anymore, she's got an even more important job now, Eric said.

"She's a fulltime coach at home."

Wa-Hi athletic director Don Wilkins, who usually is integral in filling Blue Devil coaching positions, didn't play a part in Hisaw's hiring as Wilkins is Amy Hisaw's father. But Wilkins said last week he's excited about where Eric will take the Wa-Hi football program.

"I know he's happy for me, and happy for the direction we're trying to take the program," Eric Hisaw said.

And just where is the Wa-Hi grid progam going?

"Hopefully, as far as I can take it in December," Hisaw said. "We have a lot of kids I think can play at a high level."

He credits Yonts and Gobel with maintaining an atmosphere of accountability and high work ethic, "and I want to continue that," Hisaw said. "But I want to bring a different kind of energy, a different kind of enthusiasm."

Hisaw addressed his coaching staff Monday night, and made clear his goal for the Blue Devils.

"I want this (Wa-Hi football games) to be THE place to be on Friday nights," he said. "I want these kids to know they're playing for the people in the community.

"I asked the staff to think outside the box, to be a little different than we have been in the past," Hisaw said. "I think we'll be exciting, dynamic and fun to watch. I have extremely high expectations."

Hisaw will convey his message to Wa-Hi football players and their parents at 8 p.m. Monday in the Blue Devils gym. All incoming ninth graders through seniors, and their parents, are invited.

"We have kids now playing in other sports - soccer, tennis track," he said. "They're paying their dues in other sports, trying to do what's best for our school. They're working hard and they want to win. We'll channel that to get going in the right direction."

Contact Bret Rankin at bretrankin@wwub.com.

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