Shadle Park principal Eric Sylling sought much input from parents and the community on what they wanted in a new head football coach.
Sylling announced the result of what turned out to be more than a four-month process Friday when he introduced Jim Mace to succeed Alan Stanfield, who resigned in January to become the offensive coordinator at Whitworth University.
It will be Mace’s first head coaching position. He was the Highlanders’ defensive line coach last year and spent the previous three years, two as defensive coordinator, at Rogers.
“I want to take all the good things Alan did and take the next step,” said Mace, a history teacher at Shaw Middle School who will move over to Shadle in the fall. “I want to invest time in the junior high, Grid Kids and SYSA (Spokane Youth Sports Association). Maybe I offer something that wasn’t as much of a focus the last couple of years.”
Mace was one of two finalists. Another finalist was an assistant at another Greater Spokane League school, but Sylling declined to name him. Sylling said he oversaw an internal and external search.
“We spent time with parents asking them what they wanted in a head coach, and they wanted continuity in the program,” said Sylling, who is finishing his third year as Shadle’s principal.
Sylling said parents also wanted the current success of the program to continue and wanted a head coach who would develop the program down to the youth levels.
Much of Stanfield’s work in four years as head coach was focused on turning around a culture that had accepted losing to some degree. The Highlanders started their breakthrough two years ago and that culminated under Stanfield last year when Shadle advanced to the State 3A semifinals.
“Alan turned it around,” Sylling said. “What I see in Jim is he’s incredibly passionate and a hard worker. He’s a man of character. He’s someone I would trust with my child and want to coach my kids.”
Prior to landing at Rogers, Mace, 34, a 1998 Medical Lake graduate, spent two years as defensive coordinator at Davenport. He got his start in coaching and teaching at Othello where he spent his last year there as a varsity assistant.
He had an opportunity to take the head coaching job at Davenport four years ago but declined.
“At the time my caseload for teaching was heavy and I was working on a master’s degree,” Mace said. “It wasn’t the right time.”
Mace has the endorsement of a key returner – senior-to-be, record-setting quarterback Brett Rypien, who recently gave Boise State University an oral commitment.
“He’s a good coach,” Rypien said.
With Rypien back, Mace doesn’t plan on changing the base of Shadle’s spread offense – although he needs to fill the offensive coordinator position. Stanfield was his own offensive coordinator.
Mace hopes defensive coordinator Greg Caster will return. That would free Mace up to assist in play calling on offense with a new coordinator.
In time, though, Mace wants to incorporate more balance to the pass-happy offense.
“My biggest concern right now is the short time frame,” he said. “We have to get a lot of things in place. I want to fill out the staff with high-quality, high-character guys. Spring ball and Border League camp are around the corner.”