After 18 seasons of coaching football at Westview, the last eight as head coach, Ryan Atkinson has stepped down.
Atkinson said he wants to spend more time with his son, Case, who is 2 ½. He informed players of his decision Dec. 16.
“Coaching at Westview has been some of the most amazing years of my life,” said Atkinson, who compiled a 39-40 record during his tenure. “Unbelievable working with kids. I just want to sit back and be with my son a little bit.”
Athletic director Troy Christiansen lauded the work of Atkinson, who will continue as a PE teacher at the school.
“I don't think I've ever had a coach that had as much passion for the school,” Christiansen said. “He goes to the other sporting events. He's always energetic. ... It's going to be a big hole to fill because it's a big job in our community.”
Atkinson played football at Santa Barbara (Calif.) High School and in college at Oregon State, starting on the defensive line as a senior on the 2001 Fiesta Bowl champion.
“It seemed like it was only yesterday, but that was an incredible feeling,” he said. “You often wonder if there was a playoff system, but you never know. Just having an opportunity to be a part of the Beavers was huge.
“That whole turnaround there was one of the most amazing things I've been through, which got me into coaching. It was such an awesome deal, turning that thing around, you kind of just wanted to pay it back to as many kids as you can.”
He joined Westview's staff as a defensive end coach under Jon Evans. He served in several roles, including strength coach, before taking over as head coach in 2015, replacing Greg Fisher.
Under Atkinson, the Wildcats made the second round of the 6A playoffs in 2015, 2016 and 2021. Last season, as the No. 18 overall seed, they won the inaugural 6A Columbia Cup, defeating North Salem 51-22 in the final behind 417 rushing yards by senior Jordan Fisher.
Atkinson said he had not yet decided to resign while coaching in the season finale. He went out on a high note, winning his last seven games after the team started the season 1-5.
“I had a heck of a time there, a really good experience all the way through,” he said. “I've been doing it for a long time, so of course I'll miss it. Eighteen years was a good run.”
Christiansen said that Atkinson helped many players advance to college programs.
“He got a lot of kids to the next level,” Christiansen said. “He worked so hard for those kids to get those opportunities. He's someone we're going to miss, but happy that he's going to stay in our community.”
Christiansen said that the school will open the position after finalizing its budget in February.