Younger Fisher traveling familiar road

Adam Fisher, a 1994 South Kitsap High School graduate, enters his 10th season as football coach at Spokane’s East Valley High School this fall. - File photo
Adam Fisher, a 1994 South Kitsap High School graduate, enters his 10th season as football coach at Spokane’s East Valley High School this fall.
— image credit: File photo

Adam Fisher’s father was one of the most successful high-school coaches in state history.

Even so, that doesn’t mean he envisioned a similar career path for himself.

Fisher, a 1994 South Kitsap High School graduate, will begin his 10th season as coach at Spokane’s East Valley this fall.

But even after being the starting quarterback on the 1993 team that finished with a 10-1 record — the Wolves lost just four games in his three seasons — Adam had no plans to follow his father, Ed, into coaching.

Adam hoped to become a state patrolman until he earned a scholarship to play wide receiver at Eastern Washington University. The plan changed in Cheney after he returned home to volunteer with his father’s football camps, and Adam ended up following his dad’s career route so closely that he also teaches physical education.

“I’m running the same course he is and enjoy the same things,” said Adam, who returned to the West Sound for the annual Benji Olson/Ed Fisher Scholarships Golf Classic on Saturday at Trophy Lake Golf & Casting. Proceeds from the tournament are donated toward a college scholarship for a South football player. “You try and influence them and make their lives a little better.”

Adam ended up settling in Spokane with his wife Jolene, a 1995 South graduate, and their two children, Ally, 7, and Sydney, 5. Now 33, he plans to keep coaching for several years. His father still coaches offensive and defensive linemen at East Valley.

“We have a great relationship,” Adam said. “It’s enjoyable. We still have a father-son relationship, and that’s something a lot of our kids need to see.”

Under different circumstances, Adam might be coaching at South. Had his father not left after the 1996 season, it’s conceivable he might have taken over the program at some point. He said it’s not something he thinks about, though.

“You find in coaching that one small thing can change a lot of things,” said Adam, adding that he respects the values South coach D.J. Sigurdson brings to the profession. “I think that goes with everything in life.”

He also is more concerned about other aspects of his father’s legacy, such as mentoring youths, than the number of games he wins. Adam has a 50-41 record at East Valley, while Ed was 196-49 from 1974-96 at South.

Some of that relates to circumstances, though. South is one of the largest high schools in the state and, during Ed’s tenure, regularly produced athletes who played in the Pac-10 and other major universities.

Adam notes that East Valley isn’t one of the wealthier Spokane schools and regularly plays Class 4A programs in the 3A/4A Greater Spokane League. Three players from the city — tight end Aaron Dunn (Mead), Connor Halliday (Ferris) and Jake Rodgers (Shadle Park) — already have committed to Washington State University. Fisher rarely sees that level of talent coming through his program.

“It’s always a work in progress for us,” he said. “We don’t have quite as many kids and they come from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Every year always is an extreme challenge, but that’s why you do it.”

Still, he has taken the Knights to the state playoffs three times during his tenure. They only had attained that status once since 1991 when Adam arrived, and six times in the school’s history. Last year, they reached the quarterfinals, where they lost 20-19 against Capital.

Adam just missed experiencing South’s lone state championship in 1994. His younger brother, Casey, played on that team, and concedes it wasn’t the Wolves’ best squad under his father.

“We had a small group of seniors that were very core; a tight-knit group that led us,” Casey said. “I think the ball just bounced the right way for us that year a few times, which didn’t happen my sophomore or senior years.”

Casey had a bit of a different collegiate experience than his brother. While Adam played under Dick Zornes, who later became an assistant under him at East Valley, Casey was recruited by Pokey Allen to play at Boise State.

But Allen had a rare, deadly muscle cancer known as rhabdomyosarcoma, and when he died in 1996, Casey, a defensive back, found himself playing for Houston Nutt the following year. Nutt then left for Arkansas and was replaced by Dirk Koetter.

“That was a challenge,” Casey said. “With my dad, it was the same philosophy, offense and defense every year. I played in three different defenses there (at Boise State).”

It wasn’t until Casey’s final year in 1999 that the Broncos advanced to a bowl game. They beat Louisville 34-31 in the Humanitarian Bowl to finish with a 10-3 record. Boise State, which was transitioning to Division I-A (now Bowl Championship Series) status when Casey arrived, has advanced to bowls in nine of the last 10 seasons.

“They’re tremendous now,” said Casey, adding that his favorite memory with the Broncos was returning from a serious injury to his left knee to open the ’99 season against UCLA at the Rose Bowl. “Great kids and great athletes. I could never play there today.”

Casey, 31, settled in Boise with his wife, Mary, and children, Kirstan, 11, Dylan, 9, and Karly, 1 month. He works in information technology for Microtechnology Systems.

Unlike his older brother, whose in-laws live on Mason Lake, he doesn’t make it back to Port Orchard often. But Fisher still relishes the opportunity

“This is the one chance I have to come back home and help raise money for the kids playing today,” he said. “It’s great.”

Which is how Ed feels about his sons.

“I’m really proud of what they’ve been able to do,” he said. “They’ve been able to give back to society and they’re doing things the right way.”

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