Six years after losing his grip on the head football coaching position at Washougal High School, Dave Hajek got it back Monday.
“Hajek demonstrated throughout the interview process all of the qualities that we are looking for in a coach,” Athletic Director Doug Cox wrote in a press release. “He has a tremendous amount of highly successful experience as a coach and as a player. He understands, and has demonstrated that he is committed to the goals and objectives of an education based athletic program. He is clearly passionate and enthusiastic about the sport, and the personal development of our athletes. He is organized, a good communicator, a capable fundraiser, and a solid role model for our athletes.”
A proud Panther since graduating from the high school in 1987, Hajek played football for Eastern Washington University while earning his teaching degree. He returned to his alma mater in 1993 to teach social studies and coach.
Nobody may be more shocked about the hire than Hajek himself. Six years ago, or even a year ago, he never envisioned coaching football at Washougal again. He said it had nothing to do with the athletes or the community. The ordeal of losing his job and fighting to get it back was rough on him, and rough on the players, parents and the school district. But, time heals all wounds.
“I’m still a little shocked about coming back. There are people who think I’m crazy, and I might be one of them,” Hajek said. “What it came down to for me was a decision to either leave Washougal or totally commit to Washougal. Football is something I really love coaching, and Washougal is where I love to be.”
Hajek spent the last six years as an assistant football coach at Union High School, in Camas. He continued to teach at Washougal and serve as the head track and field coach.
“We will hate to lose Dave. He has been a valuable member of our staff,” said Union head football coach Cale Piland. He added that Hajek is “extremely knowledgeable,” and that his contributions and expertise, especially in the passing game, helped the Titans on the offensive side of the ball.
Hajek thanked the athletes, coaches and parents at Union for giving him an opportunity to do what he loves. He coached the Titans during their Final Four appearances at the Tacoma Dome in 2008 and 2009. He also rediscovered his passion and found the courage to grab the reigns again.
“I coached a lot of football for the last six years. Lots of playoff games,” Hajek said. “Being around those great minds at Union helped me become a better coach. Hopefully, that translates to Washougal.”