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Fisher's return sparks memories of past glory for SK
I finally met Ed Fisher this past weekend.
Since I moved here in October of 2003, I've learned that there are two names that routinely come up when the topic of conversation turns to the glory days of South Kitsap sports. Those would be Elton Goodwin and Ed Fisher.
I've met and interviewed Goodwin. I'd like to see the baseball field at SK named after him (no offense to the Gehring family) but that needs to happen.
But I've also heard a lot about Fisher. About his presence on the sidelines of SK football games. How disciplined his team's were. How hard they played, how they never gave up.
I hear people talk about him with a reverence that is reserved for only saints and really good presidents. Or in my mind, football coaches and heroes from the state of Texas.
So, I wonder, why it took him seven years to come back to the place where he made a name for himself. Why did he wait so long to come back to Port Orchard?
That depends on who you talk to, I have found out.
Some say he left on his own accord, fed up with the way things were beginning to work around here. Others say he was run out of town because his act just got old.
I don't know which is true but I do know I was impressed after meeting the legend.
There he was, shaking hands and trading stories with the crowd as his former team lost yet another game. He posed for pictures, although reluctantly, and even squashed a halftime ceremony for the members of South Kitsap's 1994 state championship title team because he didn't want to take attention away from the homecoming parade.
That's my kind of coach.
In fact, he reminded me of a lot of my former coaches back in Odessa.
He was friendly, down-to-earth and willing to talk to a complete stranger even after watching South struggle to a 45-28 blowout loss at the hands of Central Kitsap Friday night at Joe Knowles Field. A night that saw him reunite with a handful of his former players off that title team.
"I talked with a whole bunch of them," Fisher said Friday night after the game. "There were some that I have not seen for a long time. It's been great. It's been a very, very rewarding evening."
Fisher's last season as head coach was the 1996 season that saw the Wolves go 11-1 and lose in the state semifinals. One of his assistants, D.J. Sigurdson, took over as Fisher moved to Spokane, became an athletic director and stayed away from South Kitsap football, for the most part.
He did attend two playoff games during the 1997 season, including the Wolves 49-13 loss to Central Valley in the state title game. He had, after all, coached most of those players, but has not been to a SK game since until last Friday
"It's been long enough to the point that everything is good," Fisher said. "I love the people here. I got lots of compliments, got to see things that have changed but see some things that are the same. Very good - very, very positive. There's tremendous people in the community that have been very supportive of me so it's been a very nice night."
It should come as no surprise that the people of Port Orchard would extend a gracious hand to the man that made the program what it is, especially on a night that saw the program guarantee its first losing record since 1977. In fact, many still consider South Fisher's program, although he's been gone for seven years.
"Well, it's D.J.'s (program)," Fisher laughed. "But D.J. stops over and sees me once a year, he comes and stays at my house. We watch film and talk and stuff like that. So I have a pretty good handle on at least what's going on and that sort of thing."
So the man that recorded a 161-23 record from 1980 to 1996 hasn't totally cut his ties to this program and it's obvious he still cares. He does, in fact, have his own opinions about what has transpired this season under the former defensive assistant that he groomed for this job.
"It's a situation where, no matter how long you coach, there's just going to be certain years when things don't work or are not what you want them to be," Fisher said. "This year just happens to be one of those. I feel for him but I know that he will work though it and next year they will come back and have a better season. I know he's resilient and I also know that he's a good football coach."
Fisher expects to see South back in the playoffs soon, as do I and a lot of other people around town.
But should Port Orchard expect to see him again anytime soon? Or will it be another seven years before the old football coach makes another appearance? I, as well as the entire town, should hope not.
"This has been such a rewarding night," Fisher said. "Very, very fun for me. But I don't know. We'll see."