In its 62-year football history, Tumwater High School has only had four head coaches. Now the T-Birds have their fifth, tapping assistant William "Willie" Garrow to succeed Bill Beattie, who retired after the 2022 season.
"I'm ecstatic about the opportunity," Garrow told The News Tribune. "I want to be there to see it continue, to see the legacy of the program continue onward. I really want my children to be a part of it. It's a special place."
Garrow joined the Tumwater staff in 2019 after a three-year stint as the head coach at North Thurston High School. Prior to arriving at North Thurston, Garrow spent eight years as an assistant coach at Steilacoom High School.
Garrow follows Chuck Loete (1961-68), Rip Johnson (1969-73), Sid Otton (1974-2016) and Bill Beattie (2017-22) at Tumwater. Otton is Washington's winningest high school football coach with 394 victories, claiming five state championships at Tumwater along the way. Beattie coached the T-Birds to the 2019 state championship. Tumwater defeated the Emeka Egbuka-led Steilacoom Sentinels in the 2A state title game, 48-34.
"There's not a better group of coaches that I've ever been around," Garrow said. "Obviously, Bill is an incredible person, mentor, friend, someone to work for. It's not just a one-man show over here. It's the best group of assistant coaches I've ever been around. Guys that care about the program, the kids and are committed in ways that are uncommon."
Garrow hopes his second stint as a head coach will prove more successful in the win-loss column. At North Thurston, the program struggled to gain traction in the Class 3A South Sound Conference.
"At North Thurston, I learned about the importance of having a staff, how important those guys are," Garrow said. "I made plenty of mistakes there. That's what you do when you're a young head coach. But I learned about the importance of delegating, making sure you have people that can help you succeed."
Garrow has built a reputation as an analytics-driven coach, something he's excited to blend with the old-school, winning tradition at Tumwater. While the Wing-T offense is there to stay, Garrow said he's looking forward to continuing to innovate with the T-Birds' coaching staff.
"If you're on the outside looking in, Tumwater looks like it's been doing things the same way for a really long time. We're proud of a lot of that stuff. But there's not a fear of change. When Bill asked me to come on staff, we did some new things.
"It's not like they weren't already embracing that information. (Defensive coordinator) Tim Otton was doing so much stuff already in that regard. I just tried to find areas where I can assist or add something new. They've always been innovative."
Coaches around the South Sound offered their congratulations on Twitter following the announcement.
"Let's go Coach Garrow," wrote Auburn Riverside coach Greg Herd, who was also an assistant at Steilacoom previously. "Has helped me with numerous things since the day I stepped into the coaching world whether it be as a reference, mentorship, and sharing everything he has learned in his journey. Tumwater is getting a great man to lead their program!"
Garrow said he feels "extremely lucky" to lead the T-Birds' program.
"It's a great position because of the men who work and coach there and the way the community supports its kids and its school," he said. "It's not a head coach driven thing. The people there make it special."