With the departure of coach Terry Shaw, Rainier High School has hired Andrew Bartell as the new head football coach.
Bartell has 18 years of coaching experience, with eight years coaching at Bethel High School. He lives in Rainier where his children are attending elementary school. He hopes to stay as coach long enough to coach his own kids.
“My boys go to the elementary school, and I’ve had a desire to coach my sons when they grow up, so I plan on being at Rainier for quite some time,” Bartell said.
Shaw, who coached the Mountaineers since 2013, accepted the head coaching job at North Thurston earlier this year, opening the door for Bartell to take over the program.
Shaw’s best season was in 2017 when the team amassed a record of 7-3 and reached the state tournament for the first time since 1991. The team went 5-4 in his final campaign in 2018.
Bartell believes that the current football team has potential as a squad that shows respect and works hard. He said the team needs to improve on ball skills and fighting for possession of the pigskin.
He said he is happy to be a part of the community and hopes the town will rally around the team when games start in September. The team has been taking part in community events as part of that goal. They have held a youth camp for elementary students and will be the beneficiaries of a Cow Patty Bingo event on Friday, Aug. 23, prior to Rainier Round-Up days.
“I want it to get back to some of the things you hear about on TV, ‘Friday Night Lights’ you know, where the whole town shuts down,” he said. “I want the whole community to be as on board as I am. As much as I expect my guys to be on board, that’s what I hope to get to.”
Bartell understands that his players are not just athletes, but students, and while he plans to win games, he said that he pushes the idea that grades come first. There is a study hall on Wednesdays that is mandatory for players who have a failing grade.
He expects the players who are passing their classes to attend the study hall as well in order to help their teammates through teaching and supporting their work.
“It will be pretty much a team thing,” Bartell said “I’m a real big believer about team. There is no ‘I’ or ‘me,’ it is just, ‘we,’ ‘our’ and ‘us,’ and so the more things we do as a team the more continuity we will have as a group.”
Bartell said that coaching a high school team is about more than playing football. In his position, it is important to teach them how to become better people through learning the game of football.
He likes to consider his coaching style as a “player friendly” demeanor, where he demands and earns his players’ respect.
As for a style of play, Bartell said the team will be implementing multiple sets on offence, coming in a spread formation or high, wing and ace. Defensively, the primary formation will be a 4-3 with a lot of movement and stunting.
The football season starts Sept. 6 with a home game against Raymond High School.