The COVID-19 pandemic has presented countless challenges for communities in our country over the past year. Just about every part of life was affected in some way, and high school athletics were not spared. Many districts across Washington state severely limited teams' ability to play and practice, and some canceled entire seasons in certain sports entirely.
The 2020 Fall football season was canceled in Washington, but the WIAA pushed the season to spring, allowing most teams to play a shortened schedule and make something of an otherwise dreadful year. In normal years, the Seahawks would select one coach from across the state as Coach of the Year — in 2019, it was Tumwater's Bill Beattie. But due to the truncated season, the Seahawks are nominating one coach from each of the state's six football divisions as Coach of the Year — not only for their team's performance on the field, but for their perseverance and commitment off of it as well.
1A Coach of the Year - John Lambert, La Center High School
Lambert led the La Center Wildcats to their eighth league title in the last 10 years, outscoring their opponents 199 to 56 as they coasted to a perfect 5-0 record. The Wildcats were able to start socially-distanced practices in pods of six back in November, and having that connection resulted in better grades and accountability off the field while honing their chemistry as a team at the same time.
2A Coach of the Year - Rick Steele, Hockinson High School
Steele ended his tenure as head coach at Hockinson in style, leading the team to a 5-0 record and a seventh consecutive league title. Steele retired this year after 16 seasons as the helm for the Hockinson Hawks, a tenure that includes back-to-back state titles in 2017 and 2018.
3A Coach of the Year - Cameron Robak, Spanaway Lake High School
After a 4-6 finish in his first season as head coach since taking over for his father, John, in 2019, Robak led the Spanaway Lake Sentinels to a 6-0 record this season to win their first league title in 20 years. With less time to practice as a full team (the Sentinels practiced in pods of five), a lot of the focus this year went towards fundamentals, film study, and doing "1/11th for the team". All season, Robak and his coaching staff worked hard to have their student-athletes performing at their best each week, and it resulted in the team scoring a record 259 points while only surrendering 14 all year.
4A Coach of the Year - Tom Tri, Lake Stevens High School
Tri extended his WESCO 4A win streak to 46 games this year as the Lake Stevens Vikings went 5-0, defeating five playoff teams from the previous year. The team wasn't able to meet in person for much of the pandemic, but they held leadership meetings, weight training sessions, and installed their offensive and defensive schemes via Zoom. The team also assisted the community during the pandemic by helping to fill over 1,000 sandbags to prevent flooding at a local housing development.
1B Coach of the Year - Jeff Eaton, Naselle High School
In his final season after more than 30 years with Naselle, Eaton led a Comets team of just 12 players to a 6-0 record and the 1B District 4 title, outscoring opponents 320-48 over the season. The small, rural community of Naselle rallied around the team during the pandemic, and though small in numbers, the team formed a strong bond behind some of Eaton's go-to philosophies and life lessons, like "Play hard for each other" and "Let your PADS do the talking." Eaton finished his tenure at Naselle with 18 wins in his final 19 games.
2B Coach of the Year - Eric Hansen, Wahkiakum High School
Hansen led the Wahkiakum Mules to a 5-0 record in their first season as a member of the competitive SW Central 2B East/West division. The Mules have an "Iron Man" award which goes to players who don't miss a single practice or game throughout the season. 20 of the 21 players on the roster achieved the feat this year, including two "Iron Mules", who accomplished the feat over all four years of their high school career.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett set a franchise record with 100 receptions in a single season to go along with 1,054 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2020. Here is one photo from each of those 10 touchdown catches.