Legendary Everett Coach Dies -- Ennis Inspired Many, Friends Say

Jim Ennis will be remembered for a lot of things - among them, a coach of champions and a coach who won championships.

But most of all, he will be remembered as an educator who cared about his students and players and helped prepare them for more than just the rigors of football and basketball.

Ennis died Wednesday afternoon. He was 78.

Always active, Ennis drowned while exercising in the shallow waters off Juniper Beach near his summer home on Camano Island. It was believed he suffered a heart attack or stroke before drowning.

A memorial service will be conducted Monday at 1 p.m. at Immaculate Conception Church in Everett.

``I'm sorry they aren't holding the service at Memorial Stadium,'' said Pinky Erickson, Ennis' longtime friend. ``There isn't a building in this whole town that could hold all the people who are going to want to be at that service.''

Ennis was a coach or athletic director for 42 years, 33 with the Everett School District. He came to Everett in 1939 as an assistant football coach and head basketball coach. In his first season, he guided the Seagulls' basketball squad to a 29-0 season and a state championship.

Ennis left Everett in 1942 to coach at St. Martin's College, where he met Erickson. He also worked at Washington State University and at Cleveland and Lincoln high schools in Seattle before returning to Everett in 1948. He remained there for the next 31 years.

Regarded as a master motivator, Ennis was known for his willingness to help young men enter coaching. Among others, he helped University of Miami Coach Dennis Erickson and Washington State's Mike Price. One of Ennis' sons, Terry, is head football coach at Cascade High School.

Ernie Dire, athletic director of Everett schools, played for Ennis, as did Jim Lambright, an assistant coach at the University of Washington for 21 years.

``Jim Lambright was a perfect example of the kind of player Jim coached,'' said Pinky Erickson, who served as Ennis' assistant for two seasons before going to Cascade when that school opened. ``He wasn't all that big or incredibly talented, but Jim made him work.''

Winning was important to Ennis, Erickson said. But when it came to working with kids, winning was less important than turning his players into winners.

Since retiring from the school district, Ennis served as a consultant to the district and to the Evergreen State Fair. He also took an active part in the annual East-West all-star football game and worked on the Washington Coach magazine.

Ennis is survived by his wife, Ann; children, Jim, Terry, Toni Slater, Molly Stubrud and Roseann Mullen; 13 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.