PREPS: New Wilson football coach aims to create space to 'come together'
What's one of the things Wilson High's new football coach lists as his no-no? Wearing visors.
David Kilpatrick-White is not keen on wearing any kind of hat, ever since his grandfather told him the key to keeping a full head of hair was to refrain from headgear. Plus, they make his head itch.
Hat or no, Kilpatrick-White will be on the field next fall, guiding the Trojans into a new season, with a new roster of players and coaches.
"I will never go into a game thinking we can't win," he says, "so I'm feeling very optimistic."
Kilpatrick-White has coached football since he was 15 years old. He realized he wouldn't be able to play in college but still wanted his "fix" and began coaching his youth team pretty much right after he stopped playing the game.
His first major coaching gig was at Hazen High in Renton, Washington, where he stayed for two years before he and his wife decided they wanted to move to the Portland area.
"It was disappointing; we were just getting things turned around at Hazen from a culture standpoint — kids were starting to buy in, parents were starting to get what we were trying to do," Kilpatrick-White says.
He was hoping to settle in somewhere, both in terms of his career and his family life, but spent the past year working as a social studies teacher in Vancouver, Washington, while he searched for the right fit. He thinks he has found it at Wilson, where he'll most likely teach freshman and sophomore social studies as well as coach.
"Brian (Chatard) seems like he's a really great principal, and the way they do things here with their 'Mind, Body, Spirit' and their 'Whole Wilson Way' and their emphasis on building skills the first two years is something I'm a big supporter of," Kilpatrick-White says. "It's nice to be someplace where they're working on the same things that I want to work on."
Two seminal yet opposite experiences drew him to coaching. On the positive side was his relationship with his youth football coach, who took on a parental role for Kilpatrick-White and worked with him after his playing career ended. But in high school, he had a position coach that "almost sucked all the fun out of football."
"Having that negative experience just made me feel like I wanted to do everything I could to make sure that other kids didn't have to suffer through that," he says. "One of the things that's been great about being (at Wilson) is that there's a lot of guys who are teachers here, who care about kids and want to do things for the right reason, so I've been really encouraged."
Aaron Olsen is one of those teacher-coaches; he will serve as Wilson's defensive coordinator next year. Olsen was the coach from 2004-08, teaches health at the school and attended Wilson.
"It's great to see someone like Dave come in with a lot of energy and excitement for the program. It's going to need it. We're going to need all that energy to get it off the ground and back to the spot that we all want it to be," Olsen says. "I think his philosophies are going to fit right in with the school philosophy."
Kilpatrick-White has a lot of big ideas for the future of the team, which went through a hard, 1-8 season last year.
"It's fair to say that next year will be almost the exact opposite of the previous years in a lot of respects," he says.
He hopes to modernize many aspects of the team's experience, from little things like adding music at practice to bigger philosophy changes.
"The biggest change you'll see is that I have an open-door policy," Kilpatrick-White says. "I want everyone who's in this community to feel like the football team is the place where they should come together. So I would like our home games to feel like a big community event … I just feel like high school athletics are better for the kids and better for the community when it's all one big group working together. I think the kids get something out of it; I think the community gets something out of it also."