Longtime South Kitsap football coach D.J. Sigurdson told the Port Orchard Independent on Wednesday night that he has resigned to become a full-time assistant principal at the high school.
Sigurdson, 45, served as an interim vice principal this year while Jerry Lundberg was on medical leave. He said he was offered the position Wednesday when Lundberg decided to retire.
After holding both roles during the football season — South finished with a 6-4 record in 2011 — Sigurdson said he felt he needed to commit himself to one job. He said he did not expect to move into a permanent administrative position this quickly, but that he had to take the opportunity when it was presented.
He said he completed his administrative credential through Western Washington University’s satellite campus in Bremerton and has contemplated making a career transition from being a physical-education teacher for about six years.
“I eventually was going to move this direction,” he said, adding that it was his decision to focus on one position. “Most of the time you don’t have the luxury of getting hired in your own building. It was a unique opportunity, so I took it.”
A linebacker from 1986-89 at Eastern Washington University, Sigurdson joined legendary coach Ed Fisher’s staff in 1993. Fisher, who compiled a 196-49 record with the Wolves, recommended that Sigurdson succeed him when he left after the ’96 season.
Sigurdson finishes his South career as the third most tenured coach in program history behind Fisher and Stener Kvinsland (1941-57). Only Fisher won more games with the Wolves than Sigurdson, who had a 107-49 record. He also guided the school to eight state-playoff appearances in 15 years.
“D.J. has done a fantastic job,” South athletic director Ed Santos said. “He’s followed in the tradition of Ed Fisher. He did all of the little things right. He worried more about the kids and winning was a byproduct of that.
“He’s going to be incredibly difficult to replace.”
During his first season in 1997, South won its first 12 games before losing the Class 4A state championship, 49-13, against Central Valley at the Tacoma Dome. Sigurdson’s first six teams advanced to state. The streak, which ended in 2002 at 23 seasons, remains the longest in state history.
But Sigurdson said his proudest memory will be another number. Between Fisher and Sigurdson, the Wolves only have had two coaches during the last 38 seasons. With the exception of Tumwater, a program Sid Otton has guided since 1974, Sigurdson said he is not sure any other school in the state can match South’s stability.
Sigurdson said this fall will mark a transition for him and his wife, Lisa. He fondly remembers her waiting outside the locker room after games in 1981 when he was a freshman at Seattle’s Evergreen High School. It is a bond that has existed ever since.
“We’ve never missed a football season as a player or a coach,” Sigurdson said. “It’s unchartered territory for us as a couple.”
Santos said the search for a new coach will begin immediately. Because football often has workouts in late spring and then travels for camp, Santos said there is not a lot of time to make a hire. But he also said wants an “extensive” process that looks at internal and possibly external candidates.
“I think what we’re going to do is look to go out and find the best coach that we can,” Santos said. “We’re going to explore every option that we have. We owe that to the kids and the tradition of South Kitsap football.”