Nooksack Valley's vacant boys' basketball head coaching position intrigued former longtime Whatcom Community College men's basketball coach Chris Scrimsher for the same reasons he recruited small-school players to his WCC program.
"I'm originally from Ferndale, and I think the community is a lot like Ferndale - hardworking folks, hardworking kids," Scrimsher said in a phone interview. "I like that atmosphere. At the college, I recruited a lot of kids from 1A, 2A schools for that reason. Their work ethic is high, and that is appealing."
Nooksack Valley Athletic Director Tom Harmon announced in the press release Wednesday, May 14, the Pioneers have selected Scrimsher to succeed former coach Tyler Mitchell, who stepped down in March.
Scrimsher coached Whatcom men's basketball team for 13 years before leaving the bench to solely focus on athletic director duties. He twice led the Orcas to Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges North Region championships, was selected NWAACC Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2012 and his teams consistently earned GPAs higher than 3.0.
"I'm really excited about the opportunity," Scrimsher said. "Coaching at the community college the last 19 years, I'm ready for a new chapter, and I'm excited about it."
Scrimsher already has some familiarity with Nooksack Valley. He spent a year coaching the girls' basketball team as an assistant in 1995, but he'll be tasked in his return with turning around a struggling program with a rich tradition.
Nooksack Valley won a state championship in 2003 and reached the state playoffs each year from 2004-07 and in both 2010 and '11.
But the Pioneers have only won three games the past three seasons, including a 0-22 year last winter.
Scrimsher is committed to creating a more competitive team, but he admitted the change won't come overnight.
"I don't think it's a one-year or two-year fix," Scrimsher said. "I think we start at grade school and middle school. It's not just a high school job. It's a community job. ... I want to create excitement. I want kids to be excited about Nooksack Valley High School basketball, and I want a team the community can be proud of."
Scrimsher became known for operating a fast-paced, up-tempo type of play at Whatcom, and he said a similar style can be expected in Everson. He reiterated, though, a large emphasis will be placed on proper fundamentals of the game.
The new coach only saw Nooksack Valley play one time last season, but despite the losing record, he said he was encouraged with what he saw.
"I know they were struggling record-wise, but I thought a lot could be worked with," Scrimsher said. "I'm excited to work with the kids and jump right in with them. I hope they're excited, too. If we want the same outcome, we have to put in the work, and I'll be along the way to do that."
Scrimsher described himself as a player's coach. At the college level, he took a hands-on approach and valued putting in quality time to help athletes improve.
And he sees his transition from college to high school as a move that will only be beneficial.
"The game of basketball is the game of basketball," he said. "It doesn't really matter what level. I'm not a guy that shouts orders. I'm a guy that jumps in with two feet and works with the kids. That tradition I will carry to the high school level. I think I'll bring a lot of energy to the program, and for me, that's important."
Harmon spoke positively about Scrimsher in a press release:
"The district and community are excited for a new chapter in a program steeped with rich tradition," Harmon wrote. "Coach Scrimsher brings a wealth of coaching experience form the Community College level.
Scrimsher plans on maintaining his duties as WCC Athletic Director, he said. He also wanted to publicly thank Nooksack Valley Superintendent Mark Johnson, high school principal Matt Galley and Harmon for his opportunity.
Mitchell coached the Pioneers for seven seasons after taking over for Bill Kelly. He led Nooksack Valley to a 63-104 record, a sixth-place trophy at the Class 1A State Tournament in 2011 and an eighth-place trophy in 2010.
"The Nooksack School District and community thank Coach Mitchell for all his hard work, dedication and effort through those seven years," Harmon wrote in his press release.
The Nooksack Valley School District will host a Meet the Coach Night at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 22, at the high school.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County updates.