Sports

Stone retires after 30 years

Take a walk into Jeff Stone’s office and pieces of nostalgia are plastered everywhere.

Framed newspaper articles from the season he coached his two sons in basketball, awards and pictures of former teams still adorn the walls.

Over the past few days, however, those memories have slowly started to come down and be placed in boxes.

After 30 years of service to the Oak Harbor School District and 11 years as athletic director, Stone is ready to step into retirement.

“I think it is important to go out when you still feel good about what you do and you still have something to give,” he said. “I hate the thought of having to come to work and not want to be there.”

A 1970 graduate of Coupeville High School, Stone began his career in Oak Harbor directly after earning a teaching degree from Seattle Pacific University in 1974. His first job, teaching physical education at Oak Harbor Junior High, came the same year North Whidbey Junior High was established and the new high school opened.

“Those were pretty exciting times,” Stone said.

Some of his best recollections of Oak Harbor athletics come from coaching at the junior high level. A basketball, baseball and football coach at OHJH, a smile was brought to Stone’s face when he recalled the atmosphere of the North Whidbey and Oak Harbor rivalry.

“The rivalries between the two junior highs were awesome,” he said. “Especially for football because it would seem like we would almost pack the place full for freshman games with the cross-town rivalry.”

Stone also remembers the 1983 athletic season as being one of the best ever in Wildcat history.

“If you go and look at the sports boards for that year, you’ll see a lot of league championships,” he said.

Stone first arrived at the high school in 1991, where he continued to teach physical education. Two years later he assumed both the athletic director position and became head coach of the Oak Harbor basketball team.

Perhaps some of the richest memories of his career come from time spent coaching basketball at the high school level—in particular the 1998 season.

For the first time, sons Brannon and Garrett, played on the same team and Stone had the honor of coaching them.

“After you spend 25 years coaching other people’s kids, it was kind of nice to coach your own,” he said.

If there’s one thing that bothers Stone as he prepares to leave the district—it’s the condition of Memorial Stadium.

“It’s still the same as it was 30 years ago when they were trying to replace it then,” he said. “You never would have thought when you came aboard that you’d be leaving in the same type of situation.”

As for keeping up with Oak Harbor athletics after retirement, it’s highly likely locals will continue to see Stone at the games—just in a different light.

“Part of me says I’m going to take a whole year off and get it out of my system,” he said. “The other part of me wants to be ‘Mr. Joe Q Public’ and be there just for the game—I don’t know how that feels.”

Bob Smithson, current athletic director of the Everett School District and member of the Washington State Coaches Hall of Fame, will take over Stone’s position beginning next fall.

Smithson spent several years as the head coach for the Cascade baseball team, but his duties in Oak Harbor will remain strictly in the athletic office.

Community Events, April 2014

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