PORT TOWNSEND — A pandemic-inspired change of perspective, both personally and professionally, led to a change of heart for Port Townsend’s Patrick Gaffney.
Gaffney, Port Townsend High School football coach since 2018 and also dean of students and athletic director for the school, resigned from his positions effective today, the end of the school year.
“This year has opened my eyes to many important matters affecting my life,” Gaffney wrote in his resignation letter. “It is time for me to pay attention to those matters.”
When reached Thursday, Gaffney went into more detail.
“We are going to be heading back to the other side of the mountains,” Gaffney said of he and his wife Katy. “I grew up in Spokane. My mom is over there, Katy’s mom is there and they are getting older.
“COVID, I think it just kind of gives you a different perspective and changes your outlook and priorities a little bit.”
Well-liked by players and students, Gaffney said he would miss Port Townsend.
“I’m going to miss our kids big time,” Gaffney said. “We had our sports awards banquet last night, and it was hard. It was pretty rough emotionally.”
In addition to his family ties, Gaffney felt a pull to return to teaching after time as an administrator.
“That’s why I got into education in the first place; I care about them,” Gaffney said. “And I wanted to work with kids and help them through rough times, and this year has been a big example of that.”
“With not as many students on campus this year, Principal [Carrie Erhardt] allowed me to supervise a group of 12 students failing all of their classes. And I really enjoyed that personal interaction, and that was part of my epiphany, working with those kids. Because you distance yourself a little when you aren’t in the classroom.”
Gaffney went 8-11 from 2018-2019 as Port Townsend head coach and 0-6 as East Jefferson head coach during the COVID-shortened winter season as low enrollment numbers necessitated an athletic partnership among the two districts.
His teams won the last two Quimper Quarrels with Chimacum, including a 79-51 win in the highest-scoring game in school history in 2018 and a win on a last-second desperation touchdown pass in 2019. Gaffney wore a pink tutu outfit during that latter contest after cheerleaders raised funds for cancer research.
— Michael Carman (@MikeCarmanPDN) November 2, 2019
The athletic combine will continue in 2021-22 after approval by both school boards in the past month.
“COVID almost forced us into that relationship [the athletic combine] in that we had to do it together to offer opportunities,” Gaffney said. “And once people saw the benefits, the concerns went away. We were able to show the adults that whatever is best for the kids is what we should be doing.
“They are neighbors; they know each other; they socialize. The transition isn’t as hard as people thought it would be. We were already combined in a number of sports, were planning on combining in other sports and with the enrollment numbers going the way they are, I think PT would have struggled to field a football team in a couple of years.”
Chimacum School District athletic director Carrie Beebe said the districts will review potential head coaching hires together.
“Yes, even though the individual schools are handling specific sports, we will be doing interviews together,” Beebe said. “Our goal is to have positions filled by the end of the month.”
And Gaffney will head east to look for a new adventure.
“This is the first time in 20 or 30 years that I don’t know what I’m going to do professionally, and I’m OK with that. It’s kind of a refreshing feeling. I may get back into coaching, and I’ll always work with kids.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected] news.com.