Randy Swilley planned on being Yelm High School’s football coach for 2013 and possibly beyond. He was even looking forward to the challenge of coaching the team without his son, running back Jacob, who capped off his four-year career with 1,686 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns as well as numerous school rushing records.
But the senior Swilley took two weeks to think long and hard about the program’s future, and he decided it was best to let another person tackle the job.
Swilley resigned as coach before the school’s December break. He will continue to teach marketing at the high school but will be rejoining the North Thurston football coaching staff as the Rams’ defensive line coach. He was an assistant coach at North Thurston for five seasons before taking the Yelm job in 2008.
“It’s a tough place to coach,” Swilley said of Yelm. “It’s been five years and a lot of hard work. I love the kids and working with (athletic director) Thad (Nelson) and (principal) Bryan (Wharton). For the most part, I wasn’t going to be able to get to where I wanted to go.”
Swilley, a 1985 graduate of Olympia High School, cited two main factors that led to his resignation: the difficulty in finding high-quality assistant coaches, and the area’s youth football feeder system.
“It’s been five years and nothing has changed,” he said. “Do I want to continue to do this or is it time to let someone else give it a shot and move on? It has a lot to do with not being set up to the point where it should be to win.”
This past fall, the Tornados had their best season since 2007, finishing 5-5. The team had a chance to break into the playoffs with a Week 9 victory over Olympia but suffered a 29-22 loss. Yelm ended its season with a 64-6 win over Mount Tahoma.
Swilley’s five-year stint at Yelm was his second head coaching job. He previously was the football coach at Hoquiam from 1997-2002.
Yelm joins Rainier as the two South Sound schools with football coaching vacancies. Jeff Johnson, who had coached at Rainier since 2008, stepped down following the Mountaineers’ 1-8 season in 2012.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/southsoundsports @MegWochnick