After eight seasons, Mercer Island football coach Brett Ogata is stepping away to take on a new challenge.
Ogata was named the new football coach at Kentridge High School last Friday, taking over for the Chargers’ longtime head coach Marty Osborn.
“I’m excited for the different kind of challenges I’m gonna be facing,” Ogata said of his new position. “I’ve had challenges at Mercer Island, but I’m excited for the different challenges. [Kentridge] is a bigger school, a 4A school, and it’s a different league. I’m a KingCo guy and I’m gonna be learning about the teams down there and the things they do. I’m excited for it.”
Ogata, a 1989 Mercer Island graduate and longtime Island resident, took over the Mercer Island program in 2009. In eight seasons leading the Islanders, Ogata’s teams reached the postseason three times, earning a home playoff win in 2011 against Ferndale. Last fall, the Islanders defeated KingCo 3A champs Juanita High in the conference finale and then beat Redmond in a three-team playoff to reach the postseason. Mercer Island fell to Bonney Lake in the playoffs and finished the year with a 4-6 record.
The Chargers, meanwhile, went 0-10 last season and have won four football games over the last three years.
Ogata attended college and played football at Santa Clara University in California. After graduating in 1993, he coached at Lincoln High School in California for six years as an assistant and quarterbacks coach before moving back to Mercer Island.
He said one aspect he found appealing in taking the Kentridge job was the opportunity to work with a more diverse student body. Over 58 percent of the student population at Kentridge is non-white, according to data from the Washington State Office of Superintendant of Public Instruction for the 2015-16 school year. Nearly 33 percent of the students at Mercer Island High School are non-white.
“I taught down in California at a more multicultural school,” said Ogata, who is Japanese-American. “I really loved my experience down in California and I kind of felt like it was time for a change and to get back to that, being able to coach and teach multicultural populations and having that element on a football team and in teaching.”
Ogata teaches math at Mercer Island High School and will continue teaching through the end of the school year. With his new coaching job, Ogata said he’s also expecting to teach at Kentridge next year.
He said the most difficult part of taking the Kentridge job was leaving behind the relationships he had built at Mercer Island over the past eight years, primarily with the kids, but also with coaches, parents and colleagues.
“The hardest part is [leaving] the kids and knowing that you’re leaving friends that you care about,” he said.