Trojans find their football man

After a season filled with adversity including injuries and academic ineligibility, the Olympic Trojans barely finished with the 3-7 record they had.

But if anyone knows how to rebound from adversity, it’s new Oly football coach Eric Allen.

Allen, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor five years ago, is excited at the opportunity to coach the program. After all, he said he’s just lucky to be alive.

“It changes a guy’s point of view a little bit when you’re supposed to die,” Allen said. “But I’ve spent the better part of four years making sure my health is right. I’m not even supposed to be here. Everyday I know I’m lucky.”

But Allen considers himself even luckier now, getting the opportunity to lead a program in a community that reminds him of his home town in Gresham, Ore.

“I’ve been looking for a place similar to where I grew up,” he said. “It’s just the family atmosphere and the really tight-knit community.”

Before his surgery, Allen was the head coach at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, resigning in 1999 to solve his health issues.

In terms of his game philosophy, Allen said he won’t force players into a system.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have one package that I as a coach make you fit into,” he said. “We’ll tweak it each year to what is available.”

Turning around the Trojans on the field isn’t his only goal. Allen will also step into the classroom full time this fall. While he doesn’t know exactly what he’ll teach yet, his major is in social studies and history.

Finding someone who was a fit in the classroom as well as with the team was a top priority, Olympic athletic director Steve Lutz said.

“We had an amazing candidate pool,” Lutz said. “We looked at, ‘Can this guy make an impact in the classroom.’”

As a result, Allen said one of his top goals will be putting academic problems behind the team.

“I’ll be here everyday,” Allen said. “I’ll be in the hallways reminding them to get homework done, reminding them to make their grades. This place is very special. The pieces are in place.”

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