Armed with a coaching resumé that includes stops at the collegiate and prep levels, Jeff Zenisek has taken over the football program at White River High School.
He was introduced to Hornet players, families and boosters the evening of June 20 by school Athletic Director Chris Gibson.
Zenisek most recently coached at Thomas Jefferson High School in the Federal Way district, where he led the Raiders for two seasons. Last fall, the team captured the first outright league championship in school history, winning the 4A South Puget Sound League Northwest.
But it’s not just the most recent stop that makes Zenisek an interesting story. Among other things, the new Hornet boss has coached a college team to a national championship. That came in 1995 at Central Washington University when Zenisek and quarterback Jon Kitna led the Wildcats to an NAIA national title.
He compiled a 35-17-1 record in Ellensburg but resigned in early 1997 to become an assistant at Northern Iowa, joining his former coach Mike Dunbar at the NCAA Division 1-AA level.
After several seasons on the Northern Iowa staff, Zenisek took the top job at Western State in Colorado, where he coached the Mountaineers from 2001 to 2005. After a break from coaching and a return to the Northwest, Zenisek stepped back into the prep ranks by helping the Mercer Island program. That led to taking over the Tenino High program from 2010 to 2014 – a stop that included a league title in 2013 – which led to his one-season stop with Thomas Jefferson.
He played college football at Central Washington and immediately stepped in as a student coach when his playing days ended. He was a graduate assistant at Washington State University and a high school coach on Orcas Island before heading back to CWU in 19990 as the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator.
Gibson said Zenisek – who will join the school’s physical education staff – is a good fit for White River due to “a wealth of experience at building programs at various levels.”
There was no shortage of interest in the Hornet opening, Gibson said, noting that Zenisek is “a great fit at the right time.”
Other new faces
Other new coaches coming in 2016-17 to the Enumclaw and White River districts are:
• T.J. Suek, who takes over for longtime soccer coach Russ DeFord at White River High School. Suek is a fifth-grade teacher at Mountain Meadow Elementary School in the White River district.
• Nate Barnett, who replaces Mike Williams as head coach of the White River High baseball team. Barnett, a teacher at White River, has baseball instruction in his background, though not with the Hornet program.
• Kim Lind, White River High’s new cheer adviser. She was a cheerleader at both White River High and Pacific Lutheran University and works as a P.E. teacher at Bethel High School.
• Will Stuenkel, who will lead the Enumclaw High boys tennis team in the fall. He has been an assistant in the program the past three seasons and replaces Adam Ihde.