Bob Enos

Ilwaco golf coach Bob Enos shared a laugh with Madeline Jacobson on the seventh hole green during their home match in 2016. Enos has been a versatile mentor for youth sports on the peninsula since moving to Surfside following a coaching career in Forks.

Bob Enos landed on the Peninsula when he “retired” to Surfside in 2006 after a long teaching and coaching career at Forks. But it turned out he had another long career ahead of him. Enos has been ubiquitous in the Ilwaco sports scene since 2008, coaching during all three sports seasons in his busiest stretch: defensive coordinator in football in the fall, assistant basketball coach in the winter and golf coach in the spring.

Tenyson Ramsey, a class of 2019 graduate, played three sports for Enos at Ilwaco. He was an outside linebacker for Enos’ defense in football. He played junior varsity basketball his freshman year and developed under Enos, swinging between JV and varsity as a sophomore before starting for varsity his final two years. Ramsey also golfed, playing at State as a senior after qualifying as an alternate.

“The time I had with Bob Enos was probably my most memorable relationship I had with any coach,” said Ramsey, now a Washington State University student. “I remember being down about not making the varsity basketball team and he helped me keep my head up. He made me a better basketball player…. He had such an impact on me in sports and life in general. I still reach out to him sometimes. He’d come and see me after WSU football games last year, before the pandemic.”

Enos, 68, is now starting to offload responsibilities. He retired as defensive coordinator of the football team before the 2018 season, as his wife was retiring from North Beach Clinic in Ocean Park. He retired as golf coach this summer. The 2020 golf season had been cancelled, so his last year as golf coach was 2019. That year, freshman Gabby Bell made the cut at State, while junior Blake Kukula won his third straight B State title and seemed destined to be the state’s first-ever four-time champ.

“I dropped coaching football so we could do some traveling and attend WSU football with my Dad,” Enos said. He retired from golf so they could travel in the spring.

His intent was to coach another year or two of basketball. When Tim Harrell retired as head coach following the 2019-20 season, Enos “was willing to fill the role if needed, but at this point in his career he wants to be involved, but maybe not in charge,” said Harrell, who remains the Ilwaco athletic director. So Justin Russell, previously the girls’ assistant coach, took the position.

As covid continued to rage, it put Enos’ plans, and the whole season, in limbo. Covid is an especially acute concern for his family. “My wife and I, plus my 92-year-old father, all have pre-existing medical conditions that make us high-risk,” he noted. But in hopes that conditions improve, he has kept his options open. The whole Washington high school sports world is in similar limbo. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) earlier this month delayed its scheduled start until February.

Playing in Centralia, and on to Forks

Enos played baseball, basketball and football at Centralia High School. His father Rod coached at several high schools and colleges, including a year as assistant football coach at Washington State.

Enos played two years of junior college basketball at Centralia College. He started his coaching career at tiny Hunters High School in Eastern Washington, where he briefly served as head coach of baseball, basketball and football.

Enos moved on to Forks High School, where he taught social studies and PE at Forks for 27 years. He coached baseball, basketball and football there during various stretches. That included 15 years as head basketball coach (11 years coaching the boys team, four years coaching the girls) and 25 years as football defensive coordinator. His wife, Barb, was director of nursing at the hospital in Forks. Both retired in 2006.

“My wife always wanted to live at the beach,” Enos said. They looked at locations along the Oregon and Washington coasts before settling on Surfside.

Dennis Oman, an Ilwaco basketball star in the late 1950s, found a house for them. “[Oman] had a real estate company at the time,” Enos said. “He’s a huge fan so I’d see him at every District and State tournament… I had his card in my wallet, and I called him up.”

Neither Bob nor Barb was ready to fully retire. Barb took a position at the clinic in Klipsan. Bob still found himself putting sports ahead of ease and comfort. He coached at two schools in one year in both 2006 and 2007, freshman football at Montesano and eighth-grade basketball at Ilwaco, and did substitute teaching in both districts. During one of the football seasons, he moved into the coaches’ office in the Montesano gym. “It’s a good-sized room, about 12 feet by 15 feet,” he said. “It had a fridge and a microwave. I slept on my couch, which is still there, that I brought in from my house in Forks.”

Kevin McNulty, shortly after starting his second stint as Ilwaco athletic director and football coach, convinced Enos to be a full-time Fisherman. They had been acquainted and coached against each other in the past.

“I was back at the beach, and I came down one day to the equipment room and Enos was there,” McNulty recounted. “I said ‘what are you doing here?’ He said, ‘I coach basketball here now.’ I said, ‘What? I thought you were at Monte?’” Enos explained that he was coaching eight-grade basketball at Ilwaco and football at Montesano. “I said, ‘Well, let’s put a stop to that right now. How would you like to be the Ilwaco defensive coordinator?’”

As he began his work with the football team, Enos was still coaching eighth-grade basketball. He took the girls golf position in 2009. Since Ilwaco dropped from 1A to 2B in the 2014-15 sports season, boys and girls have both golfed in the spring and thus worked together, with Enos largely running the program throughout that time period. Also starting in 2014-15 season, Enos became the high school boys basketball assistant coach and JV coach.

A late career in golf coaching

When Enos arrived on the Peninsula, he didn’t have an extensive golf background. He had golfed recreationally in high school. He joined the team at Centralia College, but did not make the traveling team. “The nice thing about it was, I got to play golf for free, practicing every day.”

At Forks, though, there was no golf course nearby. “That whole time, I really considered myself basically a non-golfer,” Enos said. “I’d get together with other coaches and play four or five times per year.”

Enos joined the club at Surfside, getting to know Jon Kukula, the pro there. Ryan Kukula, whom Enos coached in eighth-grade basketball, entered high school and helped launch the school’s boys’ golf dynasty under coach Dan Whealdon.

Enos would sometimes give the impression that he still wasn’t an avid golfer. Then again, he named his dog Bogey. The rescue dog, now eight years old, got his name the day after they got him, when he leapt out of a golf cart to retrieve a ball Enos had putted in.

In 2009, the girls golf position came open, and McNulty persuaded Enos to take it. McNulty saw in Enos’ coaching skills that he could easily apply to a new sport. He wanted him to build up the girls’ program, which only had three participants the previous year.

“I knew Bob’s going to treat kids right,” McNulty said. “He has the ability to know when to get more intense, and also when to stay even-keeled…. He’s going to know how to work with kids, and recruit. And he’s a student of sports.”

When coaching golf, Enos’ even-keeled side tended to be more prominent.

“Football and basketball are more high-paced, intense, and in golf he made it laid back so you could relax and have fun, because that’s why you’re there,” Ramsey said.

“He was laid back as a golf coach,” Bell said. “He made it so you wanted to play golf, so it wasn’t a chore after school.”

The girls’ program had as many as 11 participants some years in his tenure. Besides Bell, his star proteges included Phoebe Millsap, Allison Bonney, Madison Chabot and the school’s first four-time girls’ State competitor, Aslyn Fisher.

Enos had his hands full. Soon, he was working with a wide variety of golfers — boys and girls, veterans and newcomers. Most came in with little experience. Some started off highly committed, some became more serious over time, others drifted off.

Then there was Blake, the youngest of three Kukula brothers, who took second at State in 2016 while only in eighth grade. Already, upper-classmen were looking to their middle-school teammate for guidance, and Enos facilitated this. At the same time, Kukula was always self-directed, and was free to work on what he felt he needed to.

“Above all things, he was very supportive,” Kukula said. “He was going to put me in the best position possible to succeed. If that meant me practicing on my own, he would let me go do that.”

Enos sought to ensure that people got out of golf what they put into it.

“He knew early on I was invested in it, and he started putting in extra work with me,” Bell said.

“What Bob did was take guys who were really close to going to State, and take them under his wing,” Kukula added. “He would tell me, ‘I’m trying to get another guy to State with you.’”

Football and basketball

When McNulty was selling Enos on becoming Ilwaco defensive coordinator, he warned him that he would have to adjust his expectations. “We’d been struggling, and Monte was a football power, so was Forks,” McNulty said. At the time, Ilwaco was among the state’s smallest 1A schools, which left it overmatched in football.

“I like to keep [football strategy] simple,” Enos said. “But I found out at Ilwaco stuff that I thought was simple seemed complicated to players. So I had to back off, but we built back up some complexity.”

Enos ran a wide variety of defenses over his years at Forks and Ilwaco, varying his scheme to fit his personnel. At Ilwaco, he started off running a 3-5 defense, believing it would help his undersized team. Later, he frequently stacked the defensive line with a 5-2 or even a 6-1 defense.

“Kevin was getting the wrestling team going at the time, and we stacked the defensive line with wrestling types,” Enos said. “Not necessarily all big guys, but guys who could stay low, grab the ankles.”

After years of struggling at 1A, the football team became competitive after the 2014 drop to 2B, putting together a winning record most seasons.

That same year, Harrell took over as Ilwaco basketball coach. Enos moved up from middle school to become junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach. That program was coming off a winless season in 1A, but rose quickly to the top third of the 2B Pacific league, sometimes also beating the 1A teams on their schedule.

Harrell and McNulty both described Enos as someone with intricate knowledge of scheme and strategy.

“It was like having another head coach,” McNulty said.

“I came in as a first-time varsity coach, and to have someone with his experience to guide me through the development of the program was a critical part of our success,” Harrell said. “Bob was great at scheming. If we were facing — Adna is always the example I use, because Luke [Salme] is so good at changing their defense and confusing you so you don’t know what you’re facing. Bob would set that up in practice and have his JV kids mimicking it.”

Players saw Enos’ importance to strategy.

“Harrell would ask him ‘how do we attack this defense’ or ‘how do we handle this offense,’” said Kukula, who played mostly junior varsity basketball in high school. “Enos would go through options, the pros and cons of each.”

The JV team went 18-2 in Enos’ second season, 2015-16, and has had a winning record every year since.

“My JV philosophy was to play half-court, man defense, and play as up-tempo as we could, because those things get kids ready for varsity. They learn to be quick and react on offense,” Enos said. “It was good for that first group of kids because we had Alex Kaino as varsity point guard for four years, so by playing fast they learned to play with that kind of point guard.”

In 2017-18, Enos had the point guard of the future, Jaden Turner. “He came in as a different type of point guard, but we got Jaden to push the ball more. And Blake, when he was point guard for JV, was pushing the pace.”

Ramsey, though, saw Enos also focused on the present. On a JV game day, “it wasn’t really about developing for the future…. Enos was pushing us, he wanted to win every game,” Ramsey said.

“I enjoyed learning from him. He made it a great experience,” Bell said. “I definitely couldn’t have done all I did without his coaching…. I’m going to miss him, and I know a lot of us are.”

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