Ferndale’s Vic Randall has been a staple in the Whatcom County sports world for the past 43 years.
He’s served as a teacher, ski-club adviser and a baseball and golf coach in the Ferndale School District.
What he’s most known for though is his success as Ferndale football’s head coach, where he compiled a 137-40 record through 2002, and his leadership as Ferndale’s athletic director, which he’s done for the past 13 years.
As athletic director he was instrumental in the formation of the multi-classification Northwest Conference and has been a great mentor for the dozens of coaches and hundreds of athletes that donned the Golden Eagles’ blue and gold.
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But it’s time for Randall to move on. He wants to watch his grandchildren play sports and continue to grow, and with so much time an athletic director spends developing young athletes, Randall knew it was time for the next stage of his life.
“The thing I’ll probably miss the most will be being in touch with coaches and what they’re doing,” Randall said in a phone interview. “I’ll also miss being with the other Northwest Conference athletic directors. We all work pretty hard and they’re a good group of people.”
Randall, too, will be missed by his colleagues.
“As it would be for anybody who has done anything for nearly 45 years at a high level, he’s just tremendously respected amongst his peers,” Ferndale football coach Jamie Plenkovich said in a phone interview. “Especially for us football coaches, because he was a tremendous football coach. I wish him well in his retirement.”
Plenkovich and Randall’s relationship goes a long way back, when Plenkovich was coaching under the esteemed Birger Solberg at Sehome. Solberg and Plenkovich were quite close, having coached together at Ferndale, and Plenkovich sought to gain as much knowledge as he could from the both of them.
“I would meet with (Randall) several times a year to talk about football or defense,” Plenkovich said. “We’ve always had that mentor relationship and it started at Sehome.”
When Plenkovich took over for Randall as the coach for Ferndale football, that relationship continued to thrive.
A football coach and athletic director work very closely and with Randall’s experience directing a football program, the process was nearly always seamless.
“It’s great having him because he had done my job very successfully for a long time. It’s nice having somebody with that experience in a leadership position,” Plenkovich said. “He’s a great guy for me to be able to talk about stuff with. It’s not always even X’s and O’s, but just things that are going on with the team.”
Certain characteristics Randall’s teams had are still ingrained within the football program still, Plenkovich said.
“He demands perfection in basic fundamental things,” Plenkovich said. “The mindset of ‘We’re going to do it again until we get it right.’ He would do things over and over and over again until you’re satisfied that the players understand what you’re doing.”
And that search for perfection extended into Randall’s athletic director duties as well.
He saw an area of improvement for the Northwest Conference and aimed to correct it. When he first took on the athletic director duties, he noticed that the bigger schools were having to travel past plenty of capable competitive schools to play games.
“It didn’t make a lot of sense to drive by schools to go find contests,” Randall said. “Why would we go down to Snohomish when we have all these teams right here?”
After a year and a half of planning and hashing out details, the modern-day NWC was born, cutting costs on transportation and allowing closer games for parents and fans to watch.
While Randall’s impact on prep sports in the area is profound, his impact on the athletes that came through Ferndale is even more so.
“He’s always cared a lot about the kids. That’s why he’s done it for so long,” Plenkovich said. “You know that his heart is in a good place when it comes to dealing with kids and wanting what’s best for the kids. Every decision is made in the best interest of our kids. He’s been hugely positive.”
It’s also why the moments that stick out the most for Randall are when a old player will come back to campus years later and apologize for something he did wrong or a father will complain about his child’s actions and Randall gets to say ‘He’s just like you.’
“I think the most important thing is getting more kids out for all these teams. We’re trying to get as many kids involved because we know kids that are involved in athletics do better in the classroom,” Randall said. “It’s nice seeing kids struggling and all of a sudden turn it around.”
In 43 years, Randall has got to see plenty of those success stories. Now it’s time for him to watch his own family build their list of accomplishments.
Reach Joshua Hart at 360-715-2238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.