Kings retire from 30-year coach career

From herding energetic 5-year-olds for a T-ball game to preparing a high school varsity basketball team for a state playoff contest, David and Amy King have coached all age and skill levels.

Now, after three decades, the Coupeville husband and wife coaching tandem is leaving the profession.

“It’s the right time,” Amy King said about the decision to step away. “We have done this so many years, and when done right, coaching takes up the entire year.”

Though basketball season is November through February, running the program has become a year-round job with offseason training, open gyms, team camps, clinics, youth programs.

Both Kings said their responsibilities at their day jobs for IDEX Heath and Science have increased, and, if they continued to coach, one — their job or their team — would get neglected.

David King said it was also time to focus on family. Basketball season runs through Thanksgiving and Christmas, and winter coaches do not have time to take advantage of the holiday breaks.

Both began coaching because they wanted to continue to be involved in athletics after high school. And, like many, their coaching began by helping out with their children’s youth teams.

As they fell deeper into coaching, there motivation to continue shifted from simply wanting to be involved to something more.

“I have a passion for sports, specifically basketball, and have always wanted to share this sport with others,” David King said. “Coaching has allowed me to do that. Many players don’t have the confidence, but by nudging and pushing them out of their comfort zone, they, more often than not, played better than they believed they could.

“Having a team come together and ‘get it’ is a feeling that isn’t easily surpassed.”

Amy King added, “Once I started, it was addictive. You see those kids who can’t do something or can but not well, and they finally get something — make a basket or serve a volleyball over the net overhanded — it is the best feeling in the world.”

When recalling their fondest memories, the stories came pouring out; a small portion follow.

Some had to do with winning:

• Losing to Seattle Christian in overtime in a loser-out/winner-to-state basketball game and then playing the same team in the same situation the next year and winning after doggedly preparing for the game.

• Taking an unheralded Coupeville softball team to state, surpassing what most thought they could achieve. “It wasn’t a team of great athletes or softball players, but a team that believed in each other and, at the right time, played their best and exceeded expectations,” David King said.

Some were individual achievements:

• Working with Tiffany Briscoe on her swing in her driveway on a windy, cold day and watching her execute the lesson the following day, swatting her first career home run.

• Watching outfielder Monica Vidoni make a perfect throw to gun down a runner at third base in a critical game.

• Seeing catcher Bree Messner volunteer to pitch an inning in a district game to give a weary McKayla Bailey a break.

Some were humorous or touching:

• Watching their team do the chicken dance at a timeout to get it more energized.

• Seeing McKenzie Bailey place a chair at midcourt during basketball practice to allow Amy to get off her feet and stay involved while recovering from a surgery.

Amy King first got involved in school sports when she became the girls junior varsity basketball coach in 2002-2003. She coached middle school or junior varsity volleyball from 2008-2014, and helped with softball from 2011-14.

David served as a volunteer with the girls basketball team from 2003-2009, and then he coached the offseason team in 2010. He was the girls JV coach for two years before becoming the varsity coach in 2012-13.

He co-coached softball from 2011-14 and was a volunteer assistant with the baseball team from 2009-11.

In nearly 20 seasons, the Kings worked on the same staff. The past seven years they coached the girls basketball team together.

They noted that living, working and coaching together could cause problems for some couples, but not them.

“She’s my best friend,” David said about Amy. “Coaching is a hobby we can share together.”

“It’s all about trust, loyalty and communication,” Amy added.

Knowing firsthand what each was facing each day helped them celebrate and empathize during the highs and lows of life, they said.

Their ability to work together helped set a positive example and touch the lives of hundreds of Central Whidbey youth. They will no longer be coaching, but the impact will carry on for generations.

The Kings have retired, long live their legacy.

Amy King directs her team during a junior varsity game last season. (Photo by John Fisken)

Amy King directs her team during a junior varsity game last season. (Photo by John Fisken)

David King goes over some adjustments with Tia Wurzrainer.(Photo by John Fisken)

David King goes over some adjustments with Tia Wurzrainer. (Photo by John Fisken)