Moving on: reflections from and on former Meadowdale coach Mark Stewart

Former Meadowdale football coach Mark Stewart is headed to Garfield High School after 13 years of leading the Mavericks.

By David Pan/Lynnwood Today editor

Former Meadowdale football coach Mark Stewart is in what he described as that in-between stage of life.

After 13 years at Meadowdale High School, an opportunity came along that Stewart decided he couldn’t afford to pass up: returning to take over a struggling Garfield football program.

Stewart, who began his coaching career at Garfield High School, thought long and hard about whether he wanted to coach the Bulldogs, who were 4-23 the last three seasons.

In the end, Stewart felt he had the energy and desire to take on another challenge in his life.

“You’re kind of excited of what we’re trying to get going at Garfield,” Stewart said at a farewell and thank you celebration Sunday at Paradise Billiards in Lynnwood. “But you’re going to miss what you’ve built. I use the analogy it’s like a remodel. Right now I’m mired smack dab in the middle of a remodel.”

When Stewart first arrived at Meadowdale, the team had gone 0-9 the previous season. The Mavericks advanced to the playoffs nine times with seven state appearances under Stewart.

The football program at Meadowdale was thriving, yet Stewart was intrigued by the idea of challenging himself again.

“I’m 53. I felt like sometimes those things creep into your head,” he said. “Do I want to do one more thing? It seemed like it was the thing I was supposed to do.”

Stewart admits that little voice in his head has been asking him “why did I start this?” Another voice answers “it’s going to be good when you get done.”

It wasn’t an easy decision for Stewart to make as he considered what he was leaving.

“I will certainly miss the support and all the help and just how this community embraced myself and the Meadowdale High School program,” Stewart said. “I’ve no complaints. It’s been a fun ride.”

Stewart’s third year provided one of the signature highlights of his tenure at Meadowdale, a victory over Mariner. The win helped set the tone for the rest of the season as the Mavericks advanced to the playoffs. Everyone realized after beating the Marauders that Meadowdale was going to be a pretty good team.

“It was a moment to remember,” Stewart said.

As far as what Stewart considers to be his best team, the 2011 squad that went undefeated during the regular season and finished 11-1 overall stands out on every level.

“We were probably as strong as we’ve ever been from top to bottom,” Stewart said.

Meadowdale graduate Tanner Davenport was a member of that 2011 team. He’ll never forget the impact Stewart had on him.

“It was the best three years of my football career easily,” said Davenport, who is playing football at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. “I had a great time. We won a lot of games. We were very successful. We did it the right way.”

Just before entering high school Davenport met Stewart and recalls the first impression of his future coach.

“He was a big scary guy,” Davenport said. “I was little, 13, 14 years old. You get to know him. He’s just a real personable, lovable guy. He’s a big softie.”

Davenport was quick to add, however, that Stewart also “can be intense.”

And Stewart knows football.

“He’s very insightful,” Davenport said. “He knows everything you need to know about football and can definitely help you with everything you need off the field.”

Karen Cummings also remembers the major impression Stewart made when he first met her son Michael. Karen recalls her son emphatically saying that he wanted to play football for Stewart.

“He was struck by Stewart and how he was a man of integrity,” Karen Cummings said. “Stewart was someone he wanted to work with.”


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