As a sprinter and later as a coach, Jeana (Donner) Haag and her West Valley track teams were nearly unbeatable.
Tracking down a teaching job in their hometown has been considerably less easy for Haag or her husband Rick.
Economic reality has finally forced the couple to leave Spokane to teach.
“It got to a point where I did not want to sub again,” said Haag. “I’ve been looking for two years and with Rick finishing up, it freed us. Financially with our daughter, we had to do something.”
The Haags are leaving next week for Western Washington. They have accepted positions at two competing Pierce County League high schools.
Jeana will teach physical education at Tahoma High School in Maple Valley and Rick will teach business and economics at Eatonville.
Each school is a half-hour drive from Puyallup, where the couple and their daughter, Danielle, will live.
It was a difficult decision for the Haags, particularly Jeana who had coached the Eagle girls for the past five years and led the team to four straight Frontier League titles.
“It is really hard for me to leave my team. They worked hard for me and I worked hard for them,” she said. “I love the girls but they understand why I have to go.”
Haag graduated in 1987 from WV, where she set records as a sprinter. One, as a member of the school’s 1,600 relay team, still stands.
“I had (the 200 meter record) but Kristi Larson took it the next week,” she said.
After graduation from Eastern Washington University she worked as a substitute teacher and coached the girls track team at WV. Her team was unbeaten in 20 straight league meets the past four years.
For now, coaching is not in the plans at her new job.
“I’m sure I’ll get back into coaching,” she said. “If I skip this year at least I’ll be at the meets.”
Rick Haag graduated from WV in 1986. He played on an Eagle basketball team that finished sixth in state.
He majored in business and marketing in college and worked at Super Save Drug before returning to school for his master’s in education.
He was a volunteer coach at WV until this year when he became a paid assistant in both girls volleyball and basketball.
At Eatonville, which is moving from Class A to AA, he will be freshman volleyball coach and may “get roped into basketball.”
“I would like to end up being a head volleyball coach,” he said. “One of the reasons is the kids are fresh and excited to be back at school.”
He said female athletes listen better, have more energy and better team cohesiveness.
Rick said that financially he and his wife couldn’t afford to stay in Spokane any longer and that the time had come to start their careers.
But both were emphatic that some day they plan to return.
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