|Title:||Head Coach, Defensive Line (2013-)|
Chris Casey, who took over a struggling football program at Aloha (Ore.) High School and turned it into a state champion, began his duties as the head coach of the newly revived football program at George Fox University in 2014, marking a return of the sport to the school after a 45-year hiatus.
Casey led the Bruins to a 1-8 season in their first inaugural year, recording a 30-12 win over Lewis and Clark College on November 8. The win was followed by junior safety Justin Leatherman earning national recognition from D3football.com, who placed him on the National Team of the Week for his performance. The Bruins also landed three All-NWC athletes, as Charles Riga was named Second Team Defense, while John Shaffer and Justin Leatherman received Honorable Mentions. The Bruins led the Northwest Conference in attendance for home games with more than 15,000 attendees throughout the year. They also sold 1,100 season tickets and were featured in Sports Illustrated.
"It was a very good foundation/base building year and our team played with great attitude and effort," said Casey. "We were a very competitive football team and the fan-support was tremendous. Our players and coaches spoke often about how much our crowd energized us and that we felt there was a real bond/closeness between our players and fans."
Casey was selected from a national pool of candidates and was announced as the Bruins’ new coach at a press conference in the Grand Ballroom of the Multnomah Athletic Club in downtown Portland, Ore., on Feb. 28, 2012.
Casey guided Aloha to the Oregon High School Class 6A championship in 2010. Before he arrived at the school in 2004, the Warriors had won only 17 games in the previous 14 seasons, and their playoff appearance in 2009 ended a 22-year postseason drought. He completed his run at Aloha with the 2012 football season.
Previously, Casey served as an assistant football, recruiting coordinator and baseball coach at his alma mater, Linfield College (1985-94), and as an assistant football coach and strength/conditioning coach at Whitworth University in Spokane,Wash. (1994-2004). He was also an assistant football, wrestling and baseball coach at The Dalles High School (1982-85).
The move to college head coach marks a homecoming for Casey, who grew up only a block from the George Fox campus in Newberg, Ore. His ties to the community include the fact he served as a ball boy for the Bruin football program in the late 1960s and graduated from Newberg High School in 1976. His younger brother, Pat Casey, later served as head baseball coach at George Fox (1988-94) before taking the top baseball job at Oregon State University. Another brother, Brian, serves as Newberg’s police chief.
Casey is looking forward to taking his self-described “blue collar” coaching style to the collegiate level.
“I’m excited for the challenge of building a program from the ground level up – and the prospect of returning to my hometown,” said Casey. “Having been a part of collegiate athletics for 22 years as a player and coach, I’ve experienced the importance of academics and athletics and the roles they play in developing young people.
“I’m also thoroughly impressed with (George Fox President) Robin Baker and his commitment to this. It’s a tremendous opportunity, and I’m looking forward to being a part of something that will make an impact on the campus and Newberg communities. I’ve seen how football can infuse enthusiasm on campus, with alumni and in your town, and I’d love to see that happen at Fox.”
Prior to his coaching career, Casey played football for Linfield from 1978 to 1981. He also played the sport at Mt. Hood Community College (1976-78) and suited up for football, track, basketball and baseball at Newberg High (1972-76).
“Everywhere Chris has gone, the program has risen – he’s a winner,” said George Fox director of athletics Craig Taylor, who reported that more than 80 candidates expressed interest in the job, including coaches in Texas, Florida, California and the Midwest. “In his 10 years at Whitworth, the team went from one of the worst in the conference to a league title. He did the same at Aloha, taking a down-and-out program all the way to a state championship.
“What really impressed us is the fact that he invests in his players and has high expectations of them academically.Coaching is more than just about football to him. It’s about students getting better and growing as young men. He’s one of those guys you’d want your son to be around.”