Chris Casey is a winner who demands excellence from his players, his coaching staff and himself. His success on the gridiron proves his approach is a winning one.
After winning a state championship at Aloha High School, Casey took the reins of the newly instated football program at George Fox University in 2014 and quickly returned results. In just the second season the team earned four wins, national recognition, and solidified the successful return of the sport to the school after a 45-year hiatus.
Last season, the Bruins recorded their second straight winning season and made a splash in the national rankings. With a program-best 7-3 overall record and a 5-2 Northwest Conference record, the Bruins finished tied for second in the NWC standings - the highest finish to date. The Bruins received national attention after upsetting No. 21 Redlands and No. 22 Whitworth to crack the top-25 rankings. The Bruins spent four weeks ranked inside the top-25 and climbed as high as No. 19. Charles Riga became the first Bruin to earn NWC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, while Nolan Schuler became the Bruins' first-ever AFCA All-American.
Casey guided the 2016 season to a winning record of 5-4 and 5-2 in the NWC. It marked the first time since 1960 that the Bruins recorded a winning season. The Bruins made great strides on both offense and defense and even finished third in the NWC.
In the four years at the helm, Casey has led the program to record 37 All-Northwest Conference honors, one NWC Player of the Year (Charles Riga, defense), two CoSIDA Academic All-District athletes, three D3football.com All-West Region players, one AFCA Division III All-American, one CoSIDA Academic All-American, three D3football.com Al-Americans and a Cliff Harris finalist.
“The fan support is tremendous,” said Casey. “Our players and coaches speak often about how much our crowd energizes us and that we feel there is a real bond between our players and fans.”
The Bruins have led the conference in attendance all three years since the program was reinstated with more than 1,000 season tickets sold in each year, and sellout crowds nearly every game.
Casey was selected from a national pool of candidates and was announced as the Bruins’ new coach in spring of 2012. The move to college head coach marked a homecoming for Casey, who grew up only a block from the George Fox campus in Newberg, Ore. His ties to the community include serving as a ball boy for the Bruin football program in the late 1960s and graduating 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 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 coach, 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).
Casey’s self-described “blue collar” coaching style emphasizes hard work and dedication, total commitment to the team, and embracing opportunity over obligation. He seeks to transform the lives of the student-athletes who join his program into men who will live their lives to excellence in all areas -- in their jobs, in their churches, and in their families.
“Having been a part of collegiate athletics for 24 years as a player and coach, I’ve experienced the importance of academics and athletics and the roles they play in developing young people,” said Casey.
“I’m thoroughly impressed with (George Fox President) Robin Baker’s commitment to the football program. It’s a tremendous opportunity to be a part of something that has infused enthusiasm on the campus, among our alumni, and in the Newberg community.”
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. “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. He’s a man you’d want your son to be around.”
Casey and his wife, Kathleen, recently celebrated 32 years of marriage. They have four children: Lute (27), Kayleen (23), Michael (21) and Natalie (16).