Coach Phillips going home to Spokane

One of the big themes over the course of Mount Si boys' basketball coach Garrick Phillips' tenure with the Wildcats, especially in recent years, was making the program one big family. And it is family that has prompted one of the best boys' basketball coaches in Mount Si High School's history to head home. Phillips has resigned his post with the Wildcats to take the head coaching job at University High School in Spokane, where his family lives.

"Family had a lot to do with it. My Mount Si family has a lot to do with this being a very difficult decision. My parents and my two older brothers live in Spokane. My brothers both have families over there, and it will be nice to be closer to them and have them a little bit more involved with my program. My parents have been able to come over and see a lot of games, but it'll be a lot easier for them there," Phillips said.

Phillips coached the Wildcats to a 23-7 finish in the 2005-06 season and picked up a sixth-place trophy at state for those efforts. He also coached Mount Si to a fifth-place finish at state in 2000, and leaves with a 139-163 record over 13 years in Snoqualmie.

Mount Si's assistant principal and athletic director Greg Hart said Phillips will be missed. "His impact and his influence go way beyond just basketball. He's a very good teacher. Both of my kids have been through his classes and I supervise the science department, and he's just always ready," Hart said.

Phillips will miss being a part of the program. "I think, first of all, I'm going to miss the familiarity. This was my first real job as an adult coming out of college. I landed here at Mount Si and just really appreciate the opportunity that I was given as a young kid to take over this program," Phillips said. He added, "I'm going to miss the parents. I'm going to miss the kids. I think this is a great community that has a great basketball tradition that was absent for a long time and I feel a sense of pride in that I had a little bit to do with kind of the rebirth of basketball in this area."

Phillips, who teaches science at Mount Si, was also hired as a science teacher at University High School. "I think one of the great things about being a coach and a teacher is the combination. I think coaching is an extension of the classroom, so I've worked hard over the years to battle against the 'he's just a basketball coach that happens to teach' stereotype. I take my teaching job seriously and I think the kids that have come through my classroom know that," he said.

Phillips will look to instill the same discipline in students in his new program in Spokane as he did with many at Mount Si.

"From talking to people that are aware of the program and the community over there, I need to get started with the younger kids and I think we did a pretty good job with that over the years of getting fundamentals taught to the kids at a young age and getting good coaches and good mentors. Not just basketball fundamentals but life fundamentals, as well, and teaching kids to make good decisions," Phillips said.

He has this message for the Valley: "Thank you for the opportunity and for the great memories and for the kids that I've had a chance to influence over my years, and obviously the influence that they've had on me [has] helped me grow as a person and get to the point where I'm at right now."

Phillips gave special thanks to Hart, former Mount Si principal Dave Humphrey, Mount Si teacher and his longtime assistant coach Geri Spalding and former Snoqualmie Valley district superintendent Rich McCullough for giving him the chance to coach the Wildcats.

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