Former IHS coach remembered by athletes, community

September 19, 2008

By Derek Johnson

As Chris Moore stood at midfield alongside his sister Trisha, the announcer called for a moment of silence in memory of their dad. All 2,500 fans obliged, and Issaquah High School’s football stadium descended into a hush.

Gary Moore

Gary Moor

On a night when state high school teams were already honoring late Archbishop Murphy coach Terry Ennis, Issaquah was honoring one of its own, prior to its game against Mount Si on Sept. 12.

Longtime Issaquah coach Gary Moore died the day before, after suffering a stroke. Moore was 137-72-4 in 21 years at Issaquah. He coached from 1967-84, and then returned to coach from 1988-90. He also led the Indians, as they were then known, to three KingCo titles and seven state playoff appearances.

“The ceremony was greatly appreciated,” Chris Moore said. “What I liked best was that it was simple and understated, just like my dad.”

Community reaction to Gary Moore’s passing has been widespread and heartfelt.

“Gary was my friend, head coach, mentor and sometimes a dad to me,” said John Jarvinen, who later served as Moore’s defensive coordinator. “I played on his first football team that he coached. That was at Issaquah Junior High in the fall of ‘63.

“For many of us who worked our way up through the PeeWees and Little League programs in the community, Gary was our first official coach,” he said. “The fall of ‘67 was his first year as head coach at Issaquah High School. He produced some quality teams and outstanding individual players.”

Brett Wiese, who played for Issaquah, the Washington Huskies and later in the NFL, remembered his old ball coach fondly.

“Gary Moore was a caring teacher and an excellent coach who used football as a means of teaching young men how to succeed in life,” Wiese said. “He had a passion for the game and a love for his players that went far beyond a player/coach relationship. Many of the life lessons I learned from Gary Moore in the classroom and on the football field are still with me today. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to be coached by him.”

Current Issaquah head coach Chris Bennett spoke to Moore’s legacy.

“I had the opportunity to meet Coach Moore once when I was an assistant at Issaquah back in 2002,” said Bennett. “To this day, we have a team award called the Gary Moore Award, which goes to a player who displays outstanding academic achievement and community involvement. I know it was a sad day for the Issaquah football community when we found out about Gary’s passing.”

One of Moore’s old KingCo rivals also remembered him with gratitude.

“Gary was an engaging and fun guy to talk to,” said Bellevue High School booster Herb Mead. “He was also one of the best evaluators of high school talent that I’ve ever seen. I enjoyed picking up the phone and talking football with him.”

Even in Washington Husky circles, tribute has been paid. Prior to becoming the UW beat writer for the Seattle Times, Bob Condotta played for Moore.

“While I was far from a football star,” Condotta said, “I played long enough to get a feel for what a good coach, teacher and person Moore was.”

Moore’s long career enabled him to influence thousands of lives. Everyone who speaks of him depicts a man who was always upbeat but also demanding of his players.

Gary Bergan and Clete Casper were two of his quarterbacks who later played at Washington State University. Charlie Kinnune, who played for Moore and is now head coach at Mount Si, was on the 1980 Issaquah squad that played for the state championship. Some of Moore’s assistants, such as Tom Ingles, John Lalane and Kevin Thomas, also developed into high school head coaches.

“I spent 11 seasons with Gary,” Jarvinen said. “During the games, I was always up above spotting and connected to Gary via the headphones. I could always hear him talking to coaches and players during the games, and never once did I hear him say anything negative. He certainly had many occasions that might have warranted yelling at a player, but I never heard him do that. That really made an impression on me.

“But the bottom line is, he knew how to be there for you,” he said. “I admired the coach, the dad, the husband and the friend that we all saw in Gary.”

After participating in the on-field tribute and moment of silence, Moore’s children shared a chuckle even as they grieved.

“Terry Ennis was a very good friend of our dad’s,” explained Chris Moore. “They were already having the tribute for him due to his passing last year (from cancer). And then Issaquah decided to also honor our dad. So my sister and I figured that dad and Terry were somewhere looking down at us and laughing that they were sharing a moment of silence.”

Chris Moore recalled a favorite memory of his dad.

“I started going to Issaquah practices at age 5,” he said. “I got to know all the players, and tried to help out where I could. When I got older, I played for Issaquah and dad was my coach. He was probably a little harder on me given the circumstances. But I enjoyed that time so much.

“One of dad’s favorite stories involved a recruiter from Louisiana State University,” he said.  “He came up to scout one of our players. It was one of those perfect October afternoons at the stadium. The leaves of the trees on the surrounding hillsides were turning orange and red. The guy’s jaw just dropped. He had been all over the country, but said he had never seen such a beautiful setting for football, like we have at Issaquah. My dad told that story at least 100 times.”

Needless to say, in the aftermath of someone’s death, a profession alone doesn’t define the person, which is especially true for Gary Moore’s widow, Mary Lou, their two children and four grandchildren.

“He was a better man than coach,” said Chris Moore. “I was so proud to be his son. He loved family. He always had a positive word for everyone. My sister and I both got married and had kids, and yet we still carried on traditions started by him. In fact, he recently took all of us to the Puyallup Fair. It was the usual traditions: He loved Myers burgers with sautéed onions.  We had our usual food, and then he took us around the corner and bought everyone fudge. It was a great final day together as a family. He had his stroke the next day.”

As Chris Moore and his sister Trisha watched Issaquah beat Mount Si 34-20, Chris looked around the old stadium and recalled various memories.

“As a coach, often during practice, Dad would go off to the side by himself,” he said. “He would crouch down and just watch his team. That image will stay etched in my mind.”

Reach interim Sports Reporter Derek Johnson at 392-6434, ext. 236, or

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One Response to “Former IHS coach remembered by athletes, community”

  1. admin on October 2nd, 2008 1:45 pm

    As my cousin, words cannot express how extremely proud of Gary and all the wonderful outpouring of love and support from everyone for his Mom, Phyllis, wife, Mary Lou, and children, Chris and Trisha, as well as his four precious grandchildren! Thank you so much from the bottom of our heart! God bless you!

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