For the second year in a row, Whatcom County will have five new head coaches among our 11 varsity girls basketball teams, and for four of the programs it will be the second straight year for a coaching change.
We want to welcome and get to know new head coaches Krista Jefferson of Lummi Nation, Bree Park of Meridian, Tiffany Ramirez of Mount Baker, Vic Wolffis of Lynden, and James Wolverton of Bellingham.
Check out the Whatcom Hoops previews for all 22 of our teams at Girls Preview and Boys Preview.
Here’s a look at each of our new head coaches:
Krista Jefferson, Lummi Nation
Background: The Lummi Nation native is a 1998 Ferndale graduate, who played soccer, softball and volleyball for the Golden Eagles. After getting her bachelor’s degree from Western and master’s from Walden University, Jefferson worked as the athletic director and coach at Northwest Indian College. She now is the health care and policy compliance officer for the Lummi Indian Business Council. She has two sons, including Rylee Mahle who plays on the Blackhawks boys team.
Coaching experience: Jefferson was the head volleyball and women’s basketball coach at NWIC and assisted the men’s basketball team. She coached volleyball at Lummi Nation for five years before taking a break and then returning this past fall to lead the Blackhawks again.
Outlook: Having coached many of the girls in volleyball, Jefferson will look to bring stability to a program that has had playoff success despite having four coaches the past four years.
Quote: “I’m excited to work with them again. It’ll be different (than volleyball), but it’s nice to have a relationship with them.”
Bree Park, Meridian
Background: Park grew up in Whatcom County and was a four-year starter at shooting guard for Meridian, graduating in 2010. She still holds the school record with eight 3-pointers in a game. Park went on to play at Whatcom Community College and finished at Southern Oregon University, helping the Raiders reach the NAIA national tournament her senior year. She works for the City of Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department and recently got engaged to “the man of her dreams,” Philip Joy.
Coaching experience: Last season, Park was the varsity assistant at Meridian. She also has helped coach and referee a variety of teams and ages.
Outlook: Park said it was her dream to coach at Meridian, and she couldn’t have asked for a better group of players. A strong core group of athletes returns for the Trojans to build around, and they are always looking for the “next man up.” Park promised their mentality will be that no team will work harder and said no one better overlook the Trojans.
Quote: “Basketball is more than a game. Not only do we want them to make an impact on the court but to make an even bigger impact in the community. To be a Meridian Trojan, we will be committed to playing the game with humility, believing that no one player is bigger than this team, and to never let anyone outwork us.”
Tiffany (Tyler) Ramirez, Mount Baker
Background: The Whatcom County native was a three-year starter and two-year captain at Mount Baker and was part of the Mounties’ fourth-place state finish in 2005. She went on to play two years at Whatcom Community College. She is the social media coordinator for Northwest Roofing and Haley Homes, is married, and has a daughter.
Coaching experience: Right after college, she coached the Mount Baker C team for two years before taking over as varsity assistant for six years at Meridian. Last year, she coached the Mount Baker junior varsity.
Outlook: Ramirez is excited to be back where it all started for her and to reach her goal of being the head coach at her alma mater. After three head coaches in three years, the Mounties are in the middle of establishing who they will be and what they want to be known for.
Quote: “You can’t fear failure. With me being the second new coach in two years, a lot of change has happened for these girls. For some of these girls, I’m their third high school coach. With change comes failure, struggle, and a lot of challenges but from that comes growth. That is what we’re going to focus on. I’m excited to watch us go through challenges and grow from them.”
Vic Wolffis, Lynden
Background: Wolffis grew up in Michigan playing soccer, baseball and basketball in high school. An education graduate of Calvin College (Mich.), who went into teaching and coaching, he has taught social studies at Mount Vernon High School for the past 11 years. He is married with three grown children.
Coaching experience: Wolffis has 32 years coaching a variety of sports, 21 years of them in boys basketball at Lynden Christian at various levels, including head coach for the 2006 Class 2A and 1999 Class 1A state championships. He also coached Mount Vernon varsity boys basketball for four years, Squalicum varsity girls basketball for three years, Meridian varsity girls last year, and currently coaches the Mount Vernon boys varsity golf.
Outlook: This team truly has the opportunity to write its own chapter in Lions history. Adia Newcomb is the only member left in the pride that won the Class 2A state championship two years ago. Nothing will come easy, and this year’s group of young Lions will have to fight for everything they get.
Quote: “Tradition never graduates and we are going to try to make it our team MVP.”
James Wolverton, Bellingham
Background: Wolverton grew up in La Center and played basketball for legendary coach Forbes Lapp. He went on to play baseball at Whitman College before getting into coaching. Wolverton is a math teacher at Squalicum and is married with two daughters, one of whom is on the Bayhawks varsity team.
Coaching experience: After college, Wolverton returned to La Center to assist Lapp for one the Wildcats’ state championship seasons and numerous state appearances. After taking over as the boys head coach at Fort Vancouver, Wolverton took some time away from coaching to support his family. After moving to Brazil and Argentina to teach and live, he coached both boys and girls basketball teams. When his family returned to the States, they moved to Bellingham, where he coached under Dave Dickson at Squalicum and Skyler Gillispie at Sehome.
Outlook: Wolverton is excited about his “dream job,” where he works with wonderful people and players, gets to see his daughter Ellie on the court every day, and is part of the Northwest Conference “with all its great coaches and teams.” After only having seven players turn out last season, the Bayhawks are looking to build up the program, and Wolverton is hopeful they will have a great time in the gym, get better every day, and play hard.
Quote: His favorite quote of late is from author James Clear (“Atomic Habits”) — “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” But Wolverton likes to quote optimistic Coach Ted Lasso: “So I’ve been hearing this phrase y’all got over here that I ain’t too crazy about. ‘It’s the hope that kills you.’ Y’all know that? I disagree, you know? I think it’s the lack of hope that comes and gets you. See, I believe in hope. I believe in belief.”
Jim Carberry is a former Bellingham Herald sports editor and author of several books on Whatcom County prep basketball. Follow him on Twitter @whatcomhoops and visit the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page.