High School Sports

Beattie’s move to replace Otton as new Tumwater football coach expected to be ‘seamless’

Olympia High School football coach Bill Beattie, who has coached the Bears for 22 years, has been recommended by Tumwater High School to become its next football coach.
Olympia High School football coach Bill Beattie, who has coached the Bears for 22 years, has been recommended by Tumwater High School to become its next football coach. Staff file, 2013

Bill Beattie has been recommended by Tumwater High School to be its next head football coach.

Beattie has coached at Olympia for the past 22 years. His hire is pending approval by the Tumwater School District, Tumwater athletic director Tim Graham confirmed Monday.

“It’s going to be a very seamless transition in my view,” Graham said. “We understand what we’re getting is a very qualified head football coach who knows the program very well.”

Beattie graduated from Tumwater in 1978, and played four years for his predecessor, storied and recently-retired coach Sid Otton, between 1974-77.

Otton — who compiled a career record of 394-131 in 49 seasons — retired following the 2016 season after 43 years at Tumwater as the all-time winningest high school football coach in state history.

“I never thought this opportunity would arise,” Beattie said Saturday. “After it did, after a lot of searching in my mind, and going through things, I thought, ‘What an honor and a humbling experience it would be to follow Coach Otton at my alma mater.’ 

Beattie first met Otton as a fifth-grader, when Otton was coaching at Colfax. Several years later during Beattie’s freshman season at Tumwater, Otton was hired as the head coach.

Beattie’s senior season was also Otton’s first winning season at Tumwater. That year, the T-Birds won the Black Hills League title, finished 9-2, and advanced to the state quarterfinals for the first time in program history.

Otton said on Monday he thinks “some good people made a great decision” on Beattie’s hire, and the hire was emotional for him.

“We go way back,” Otton said. “Our relationship is very close. I knew him before I even came to Tumwater. He was one of those freshman who believed in the dream of what we were going to be doing.”

Beattie said he was offered and accepted the position late Thursday. Olympia principal Matt Grant emailed staff Friday morning, informing them of Beattie’s imminent departure.

Beattie said the decision was tough, and a lot of tears were shed when he met with players Friday. Beattie has a career record of 164-63 at Olympia.

“It’s truly a special place, and one I’m going to miss,” Beattie said. “There’s another chapter that moves on for me personally, and for them at Olympia.”

Olympia’s administration began its search for Beattie’s replacement on Monday with meetings. The position will be officially posted at a later date.

“It’ll be a transition, it was very hard,” Grant said. “Twenty-two years is a pretty emotional transition for the kids, the coaches. He’s an institution here.”

Prior to coaching at Olympia, Beattie held his first head coaching job at Elma from 1988-94. He was an assistant coach at Tumwater in 1983 and 1984.

Upon approval, Beattie will take over for a program that has several assistants planning to return next season.

“I know the assistant coaches coming back are really excited about it,” Otton said. “He’s going to bring some great ideas, but also wants to maintain some of the things that the coaches have done.”

Graham said the coaching staffs at Tumwater and Olympia have had a good relationship during the time that Beattie and Otton have coached, likely due to the relationship the two have off the field.

“Our staffs have shared a lot between each other through the years,” Graham said.

Beattie would also fill a physical education and health teaching position that is open at Tumwater.

“It feels like it’s natural, and the right thing to do if I can help out in continuing the Tumwater tradition,” Beattie said.

Graham said the position drew about 30 applicants from Washington and across the country, including states as far away as Texas, Iowa and North Carolina.

The Tumwater school board’s next meeting is Thursday.