It’s been a summer of transition for the Knappa boys basketball program, which recently finished up its off-season under a new head coach.
Chris Spencer has left for the head coaching job at Sedro-Woolley High School in Washington, and the Loggers have chosen to keep it ‘all in the family’ with their new hire.
Paul Isom, a class of 2007 graduate of Knappa High School, was officially named as the new coach June 6. Kirk Miller will replace Spencer as Knappa’s Athletic Director.
For those keeping score, Isom will be Knappa’s fourth boys basketball coach in the last 11 years, and the second Isom.
Paul Isom played for Craig Cokley, who left after the 2008-09 season, then handed the job off to Will Isom, Paul’s older brother and Knappa coach from 2009-10 to 2012-13. Spencer took over in 2013-14.
Paul Isom has coached with all three of his predecessors.
“Right after high school, I was an assistant coach for Craig for a year, and I also coached the sixth grade team that year,” he said. “I didn’t realize it until I thought about it, but I was a varsity assistant for three of the last four coaches, for Craig, Will and Chris.”
So the coaching experience is there, and so is the familiarity with Knappa’s current group of players.
“It’s been good,” Isom said of the transition. “I coached with Chris last year. I sat down with him before he left, and we’ve already got the schedule figured out for next regular season. Knowing the kids is big, too.
“I’m excited for it,” he said of the new opportunity. “It was kind of strange working for all three of those guys, because they are all pretty different. But it was a good experience to get all three perspectives.”
Isom said his coaching style will be most familiar with the last two.
“I like Craig (Cokley, now coaching at class 6A Wilson), but I’m not as fiery as Craig,” Isom said. “I’m in between Chris and Will. Obviously I’m close to Will because he’s my older brother. Personality-wise we’re pretty similar.
“And I learned a lot from Chris. He was really good in the X’s and O’s.”
Isom was able to coach the summer season for the Loggers, who played a shortened schedule.
“It was a little abbreviated, because I came in kind of late,” Isom said. “A bunch of our guys played summer baseball, so we were just trying to find days that we could actually find a team to play.”
Knappa played in four summer tournaments, and a few stand-alone games with Astoria and Ilwaco.
The Loggers lost some talented seniors to graduation, but they will have a lot returning, and the expectations will be high, as always.
“It will be interesting,” Isom said. “We have quite a bit of talent coming back, but when you lose Colton Weirup and Dale Takalo — who are two of the top 20 scorers in Knappa history — there’s going to be some changeover, and some guys will have to step up. But I think we have those guys. We have some players who will just have to learn some new roles.”
Isom’s coaching staff will include Jed Miethe (junior varsity coach and varsity assistant), and Tim Miller.
Isom also considers his older brother to be a resource.
“We talk all the time, and his being a coach at Knappa, he knows some of the intricacies of the job,” Paul said of Will. “And Chris is a good friend, and I still have his number. Between those two, it’s nice to have a couple guys I can fall back on.”
And speaking of family, Paul and wife Amanda (the Knappa track coach) welcomed a new addition to their family just last week, when Amanda gave birth to a baby girl.
“She’s been keeping us on our toes,” said Paul, who also finished his last term at Oregon State in the spring, and will start a Masters program in a few weeks as he works towards obtaining his teaching license.