Sports

Former King's West coach lands on his feet

"Once Tom Oliver found a place to land, the hardest part was ... finding a place to land.I think we've got a house lined up, Oliver said Thursday from the Spokane suburb of Nine Mile Falls, where he's taken the positions of assistant principal and athletic director. It's taken a long time to find something, but now we just need to keep our fingers crossed and hope things work out.Finding a job wasn't as hard for Oliver, the former AD and girls basketball coach at King's West School in Chico, as finding a house. He only earned his principal's accreditation last spring, and the Lakeside High School job was one of only two he applied for.Oliver has been living in Nine Mile Falls for several weeks, preparing for his first year at the Class 2A school. He said he hopes he can close on his house and move his family over within a couple of weeks.That'll be nice to be back together with the family, he said.Oliver ended his 10-year association with King's West at the completion of the 2000-01 school year, after being dismissed and then rehired by the Crista Ministries-owned school the previous summer. He said his search for a new job centered mainly on finding a place that would be similar to the circumstances he and his family were leaving.This seems like it's going to be a good fit, Oliver said of the community he's moving into, located about 10 miles northwest of Spokane. It's a small, close community and we can all stay pretty close. That's what we're used to. Ryan (a junior) and Tyler (a freshman) both will be right there with me at the high school, and (seventh-grader) Lindsay will be at the brand new middle school.All three Oliver children attended King's West during his tenure there.Professionally, the position allows Oliver to enter the world of public-school administration, and still keep his ties to athletics.Oliver, who took the Warrior girls to the state Class B championships in five of his last six years at King's West, is used to winning. And so, apparently, are the Eagles. The girls basketball team is the defending state 2A champion, and Oliver said several other programs have turned in state championship or near-championship performances in recent seasons.I'll miss coaching, but there's no way I want to mess with what (girls basketball coach Lisa Schultz) is doing here, he said. She's doing great.There's a very strong athletic tradition here, he said. But what's really nice is that we ranked No. 2 among all the schools in the whole Greater Spokane area in the (Washington Assessment of Student Learning) tests. Academically, it's very strong.The administration and the community are very supportive of the athletic programs, but academics is number one, he added.After a tumultuous last year at King's West, when he was let go as a cost-cutting measure, then rehired after a flood of protests from parents and students, Oliver said, We knew it was time to move on.We hated to leave the Bremerton area, but we knew the kids weren't going to be back at King's West, so we decided to make what we thought was the best move, he said. We said it would take a perfect situation to get us to move, and (this) seemed like it was. It's a great place for kids, and even though it's a public school, it's the closest thing to a private school I've ever seen, the closeness and the caring.Even the dry Eastern Washington weather seems to be a plus for Oliver, who said he suffered for years in the cool, damp Kitsap climate because of arthritis.He brushed past the controversy of his final year at King's West, referring to it only as the way things ended, and said it was time to move on. "

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