Shaun Scott, staff photo Ed Slezinger was hired as the Mercer Island Islanders head football coach in mid-May. Slezinger replaces Brett Ogata, who is now the head football coach at Kentridge High School.

Slezinger to lead Mercer Island’s football program

A new face will be patrolling the sidelines on the gridiron this fall as the face of Mercer Island’s football program.

Ed Slezinger, who was most recently the offensive and defensive coordinator for Redwood High School in Larkspur, California from 2012-2015, was hired to lead the Islanders football program in mid-May. Slezinger replaced Brett Ogata, who accepted the Kentridge Chargers new head football coaching position in April. Slezinger is familiar with the community as he coached with the Mercer Island youth football programs from 2008-2010.

Slezinger, who works full-time running clinical trials in the bio-science department at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, believes football can teach long-lasting life lessons that extend beyond the white lines of the gridiron.

“Football is my passion. Ultimately for me, this is about developing young men of character. We want to prepare them for life outside of football and teach them how to deal with adversity and deal with it well. I would say I’m a players coach. I have been around the game now for over 20 years and have coached at the youth and high school levels. The main focus for me is to keep up with the times, keep up with the game. The game continues to change over the years,” Slezinger said.

Slezinger, who guided the Islanders through spring practices in June, came away impressed with the talent and determination on the roster. Islanders senior quarterback Nikhil Nayar will be one of the top signal callers in the KingCo 3A Division.

“The kid is really both game smart and academically intelligent,” Slezinger said. “He has a really good feel for the field and for the guys around him. He is a good quality leader and we’re going to capitalize on that.”

Slezinger wants to transform the Mercer Island football team into a top flight athletic program on the Island.

“Mercer Island has a fair amount of really strong and really healthy (high school) teams. My ultimate goal is to bring the football program up to the level of the other programs. We really want to make it a desirable program and develop the athletes behind it. I think it is something that is desired by the community. There is an eagerness to see the football program develop like the lacrosse program, basketball program, etc.,” he said.

The Islanders new head football coach is already looking forward to the season opener on the road against West Valley (Yakima) on Sept. 1. West Valley is located 142 miles east of Mercer Island.

“Any opponent can be an opponent of danger and we’re focusing on West Valley right out of the gate. We want to make sure we take care of business just week by week to ensure we are doing the best we can and give ourselves an opportunity to win,” Slezinger said.

More in Sports

Photo courtesy of Martha Phelps
                                The Mercer Island girls gymnastics team earned a 153-147 win against the Juanita Rebels on Dec. 7 at Mercer Island High School. The Islanders improved their overall record to 2-0 with the win. Islanders’ junior Mya Levin (pictured) captured third place in beam. Freshman Ava Motroni captured second place in vault. Freshman Ally Lavin took third place in bars, second place in floor and third place in all-around.
Mercer Island defeats Rebels in gymnastics matchup

The Mercer Island girls gymnastics team earned a 153-147 win against the… Continue reading

Shaun Scott/staff photo
                                Mercer Island boys swim team head coach Evan Moline, who is in his second season leading the Islanders program, graduated from Mercer Island High School in 2011. The 24-year-old Moline is a graduate of Washington State University.
Islanders swim team is striving for a state title

Expectations never waver for the Mercer Island boys swim team in the… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of Jim Jantos
                                The Mercer Island boys lacrosse fifth/sixth grade Silver squad competed at the annual Space Needle Shootout from Dec. 1 through Dec. 3 at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. The Silver squad finished the 5/6 tournament with an overall record 2-2. The Mercer Island team captured victories against Bellevue and the Eastlake Cardinal. They suffered defeats against the New West Salmonbellies and South Sound 24/25. The Space Needle Shootout is the largest lacrosse tournament in the Northwest with more than 60 teams in attendance.
Mercer Island Silver lacrosse squad competes at 2017 Space Needle Shootout

The Mercer Island boys lacrosse fifth/sixth grade Silver squad competed at the… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of Jim Jantos
                                The Mercer Island boys lacrosse fifth/sixth grade Maroon squad competed at the annual Space Needle Shootout from Dec. 1 through Dec. 3 at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. The Maroon squad finished the 5/6 Festival tournament with an overall record 0-4. The Space Needle Shootout is the largest lacrosse tournament in the Northwest with more than 60 teams in attendance.
Mercer Island Maroon lacrosse squad competes at 2017 Space Needle Shootout

The Mercer Island boys lacrosse fifth/sixth grade Maroon squad competed at the… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of Martha Phelps
                                The Mercer Island girls gymnastics team earned a 153-141 victory in the first meet of the 2017-18 season against the Interlake Saints on Nov. 30 in Bellevue.
                                Islanders’ freshman Ava Motroni took second place in all-around with a score of 31.750. Motroni also captured first place in beam. Freshman Susie Lepow earned first place in bars, freshman Ally Lavin nabbed second place in bars and junior Mya Levin finished in third place in bars. Sophomore Emery Sampson registered a second-place finish in vault and Levin collected a third-place finish in vault. Mercer Island coach Leonard Lewis and team captains Leah Wootton and Sophia Tiscornia are pictured in the above photo.
Mercer Island defeats Saints in KingCo gymnastics matchup

The Mercer Island girls gymnastics team earned a 153-141 victory in the… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of Graeme Gibson
                                Islander Middle School sixth grade student Gordon Gibson captured a first place gold medal in yellow belt in the 11-year-old nogi division at the SJJIF World Jiu-Jitsu Championships on Oct. 29 in Long Beach, California. Gibson, who has been training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu since he was seven years old, trained for two hours a day for six days a week since July in preparation for the world championships in late October.
Gibson wins Gold medal at World Championships

Islander Middle School sixth grade student Gordon Gibson captured a first place… Continue reading

Baker, Michaels competed at the Class 3A state Cross Country meet

Two Mercer Island Islanders Cross Country athletes partook in the Class 3A… Continue reading

Islander wins prestigious horse jumping competition

Katrina Dumler and her horse Flintwood Starlet recently took home the title… Continue reading

Islanders register monumental victory in state playoff game

Mercer Island senior midfielder Kendall Riley blocked out all the noise and… Continue reading

Mercer Island swim team earns third place at districts

The Mercer Island Islanders girls swim team captured third place at the… Continue reading

Mercer Island water polo team to compete in state tournament

By CAROL GULLSTAD Special to the Reporter The Curtis Vikings defeated the… Continue reading

MLB pitcher Matt Boyd visits retirees in hometown Mercer Island

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Matt Boyd spoke at Covenant Shores on Oct.… Continue reading