After breaking a 33 game losing streak and beating their rival, Willamette University, two years in a row, the Lewis & Clark football team seemed to be in an era of hopeful rebuilding. However, just when they thought they were pulling out of a tunnel, they lost offensive coordinator Isaac Parker to Willamette in winter 2018. The offensive coordinator is responsible for directing the offense, making him one of the most important coaches in the entire staff.
Although the program has hired a new offensive coordinator, Joe Bushman, the loss of coach Parker has still deeply affected the team.
Coach Parker’s leave came as a surprise to many players on the team. Kalae Wong ’19, an offensive lineman on the team, was coached by Parker for three years.
“The departure of coach Parker has affected me very much,” Wong said via email. “Coach Parker and I had a strong bond on and off the field and he has taught me so much over my last three years here at Lewis & Clark. Coach Parker helped me become not only a better football player but also a better student and a better person. I feel like it has hurt the team in a negative way especially on the offensive side of the ball because he has helped this football program create an identity for ourselves this past few seasons.”
While the loss of a coach that has been a part of the program for so long can be a major setback, it has not slowed down the team, as Joe Bushman has been hired as the new offensive coordinator. Bushman was the former head coach at Clackamas High School, a state championship-winning program. He discussed his plan to integrate himself into the LC community.
“I think being respectful of what’s been done in the past and not to try and come in (sic) and change everything, but instead look for ways to help,” Bushman said. “For me, it’s about relationships, getting to know people, letting people know that you care about them and then hopefully with that comes some acceptance. We’re all working together for the same thing.”
Bushman has known LC’s head football coach Jay Locey for a long time and he has already made an impact on many players and has big plans for the Pioneer’s offense.
“(Bushman) will be a great fit,” Locey said. “He has already established a great rapport with our players. He’s great with people, demands a lot and brings an up-tempo offense and is gifted at developing team chemistry and developing quarterbacks. We’re really excited about him being a part of what we’re building here.”
The players also have high hopes for the new coach and the direction that he is taking the offense in. John Thoma ’21, is a quarterback on the team and has already met with Bushman about the upcoming season.
“I think the positive changes that can be made with our new coach is the fact our offense will be more aggressive and put more pressure on defenses,” Thoma said. “Last year the offense was very passive and even with our lack of aggressive play style, we were able to put a lot of points up against good defenses. The new mentality will make it harder for other defenses to game plan against us and which gives us a lot of advantages that should help us win games.”
The Pioneers will inevitably play Willamette again in fall 2019, now with a more personal rivalry, yet coach Bushman is not approaching this game any differently than the rest.
“I’ve never really gotten, personally, too much into making one game way more important than the other,” Bushman said. “I think that sometimes when you do that you stress yourself out. Instead, I’ve always been in the mindset that we are going to get ready the same way and believe in what we are doing every week and it really doesn’t matter who we are playing.”