Nicholl enters Hall of Fame

By Matt Phelps

Dick Nicholl has spent the past 26 years as a big part of the Mercer Island sports community as the head football coach at the high school. The winningest coach in KingCo Conference history is now also a part of an elite community of another kind: the Washington State Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

``Anytime your peers pick you for such a prestigious honor, it is exciting,'' said Nicholl, who has been coaching high school football for 38 years. ``But this award goes to my players and the other coaches I have had.''

Nicholl's KingCo career record is 149-93.

``He is a first-class individual with first-class character,'' said Mercer Island High School basketball coach Ed Pepple. ``He is the kind of coach that every parent would want their kid to play for.''

His overall career record as a head coach, including three seasons at Centralia High School, is 168-102.

``I have been at this a long time,'' joked Nicholl.

On Saturday, Nicholl was inducted into the Hall of Fame along with three other coaches -- Tom Ingles of Puyallup High School, Gary Smith of Omak and former Cheney coach Tom Oswald.

The induction of Nicholl and Ingles meant two long-time friends entered the Hall together -- despite never facing each other in a game.

``(Ingles) coached at Liberty High School (of Issaquah) when it was 2A (KingCo) and we were 3A (KingCo), when 3A was the biggest classification,'' said Nicholl. ``We both have coached in the East-West game. It is kind of neat to be going in with him.''

Nicholl said that high school football and Mercer Island has always been where his heart is. Nicholl even served as athletic director for Mercer Island High School.

``He is an institution and icon on Mercer Island,'' said Pepple. ``Mercer Island is all the better for having him here.''

Nicholl said that he never seriously considered moving on to coach in the college ranks.

``With recruiting and other stuff, it is too much of a strain on a marriage and your family,'' said Nicholl. ``I never intended to coach this long, but I still enjoy the kids and I think I have adjusted to the times pretty well. I have never really gone through any generational gaps.''

Nicholl taught Spanish, including at Mercer Island High School, for 34 years before retiring from the classroom.

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