Alan Stanfield drove to the home of the top returning Shadle Park football player last Friday.
Stanfield shared with record-setting junior quarterback Brett Rypien that he had been offered the offensive coordinator position at Whitworth University.
Rypien knew at that point he was going to lose a head coach.
“I was the last person he came to before he made his final decision,” Rypien said. “He told me it was a great job opportunity. It’s been his dream to be a college coach.”
Stanfield told recently hired Whitworth coach Rod Sandberg on Friday he wanted the job. But he asked Sandberg to hold off announcing his hire until he had a chance to tell all of his players. He did that in a meeting Monday morning when students returned to school from the holiday break.
The meeting was difficult for Stanfield and the players.
“I teared up,” Stanfield said. “I was emotional all day.”
It will be a quick turnaround for Stanfield. He’ll continue teaching his Advanced Placement classes until first semester ends later this month and then it’s on to Whitworth.
Stanfield will be able to walk to work.
“I live right behind Whitworth in the back 40,” Stanfield said. “I’m about a 7 iron away, maybe a 6, to the athletic offices. It’s probably a 7 if I jump on it.”
Stanfield has a lot of ties to Whitworth. He earned his undergraduate degree there in 1997 and an administrative credential in 2006.
His wife, Brenna, an ordained Presbyterian minister, is the daughter of former Whitworth president Bill Robinson. They met at the school when Stanfield was an assistant coach in 2004 and 2005. They married in 2005.
More than anything, the decision to take the job has more to do with family. Stanfield, whose teaching and coaching salary at Shadle was nearly $70,000, is taking a significant pay cut. But he’s thinking long term.
“I have three children under the age of 6 and they can get a free education at Whitworth if I’m there,” Stanfield said. “It’s a pay cut and that was pause for concern. But it’s in the best interest of my family.”
Stanfield’s interest in a coaching job at Whitworth actually started with the head coaching position when John Tully resigned. Stanfield applied and made it to the second round of interviews but didn’t make the final three.
“I knew it was a long shot,” Stanfield said.
At that point he set his sights on a fifth year at Shadle after getting the Highlanders to the State 3A semifinals. Shadle earned a share of the Greater Spokane League championship and finished 11-2 overall.
Quite a turnaround from the program Stanfield inherited.
The Highlanders were 1-9 his first season and 0-9 the second before going 4-6 two years ago.
After learning that Sandberg’s experience was as a defensive coordinator, Stanfield inquired about the offensive coordinator job.
He had a face-to-face interview with Sandberg just before the holiday break. He was offered the job early last week.
“I don’t think I could have left (Shadle) if we hadn’t completed the job,” Stanfield said. “The foundation is secure now.”
“A lot of people think we’ll drop off in talent but we’ll be just as good,” Rypien said. “We’re getting after it pretty good right now.”
Now Shadle will begin looking for Stanfield’s replacement.
“I talked to our administration and I just don’t want to see a whole lot of change,” Rypien said. “What we have in place is pretty good. We have great assistant coaches. We need a good leader and we need to bring back our offense and not change a whole lot of things we’ve got going on right now.”
Shadle athletic director Bruce Hafferkamp said school officials will move quickly to fill the vacancy.
“We’re excited and trusting that whatever candidate comes in that it will be as seamless a transition as possible,” Hafferkamp said.