The Student News Site of Ballard High School



Follow Us on Instagram

The process of retirement for a lifelong coach

Head football coach Ross Humphries has stepped down from the program after being one of the schools most influential presences for the past 21 years.
Ed Tanaka
Former Ballard head coach Ross Humphries giving a speech to his team.

Head football coach Ross Humphries has stepped down from the program after being one of the schools most influential presences for the past eight years. Following a 3-7 season which ended in a loss to Arlington High School, Ballard will now be moving on without their head coach of eight years.


Humphries, who played high school football at Ballard, graduated, then immediately started a coaching job without looking back. 


“Towards the end of my senior year, I was actually skipping class, and I was in the library and our head coach at the time came into the library, saw me, and told me he needed to talk to me, I thought he was gonna talk to me about skipping, but he asked me if I would coach a youth football camp for him in June,” Humphries said. “Just trying to get away from him realizing I was skipping class, I agreed to it, and after I did it I really enjoyed it. I did a good job at it so he offered me to be the coach for the freshman offense and defensive line coach, so I started coaching in the fall after I graduated.”


When he first started out coaching, it was a life-changing experience, however it was not a seamless fit at first, and took some time to get over the somewhat odd situation. 


“I was 18 and I had graduated the June before, and although I was mostly coaching freshmen, I was technically now ‘coach Humphries’ to people who had been my teammates for three years,” Humphries said. “It was definitely a weird dynamic, and I had to navigate that as an 18 year old which was tough because I couldn’t hangout with the people who were my friends and younger grades, I had to remove myself and had to navigate those relationships, making sure I was responsible as a coach.”


After starting his career, Humphries would go on for 21 straight years as a coach, both in and out of Ballard. And unlike many high school coaches, Humphries sought to help out students throughout the whole year, and took virtually no mental breaks from coaching.


“For 21 years, I was coaching how I believe coaching should be done, which is year round,” Humphries said. “I knew a couple years ago I was nearing the end, or needed to take a break from coaching, and I wanted to wait until the right moment – I feel like now is the right moment.”


Leaving the current team, who now has many returning players, Humphries felt that he left the squad in a good spot for now and for the future.


“Our upcoming senior class has such good leadership in it,” Humphries said. “I feel like we’re back on the rise, we’re where we were before covid, and I feel like we’re getting back to the point of being one of the better programs in the state.”


Taking over for Humphries will be former special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach, Malik Prince, who will look to excel in his new head coaching role. 


“Coach Prince has been thinking about being a head coach at some point in time, and the administration was okay with him being the interim head coach when I was considering stepping down,” Humphries said. “I knew not only that our players were in a good place but also that our coaches would continue.”


Normally when a head coach steps down, and a new coach is hired, that coach will bring their staff along with them, but for Humphries, knowing that the same staff would be in place was critical to his decision making. 


“It’s hard as a head coach knowing that my personal decision impacts so many people, all the players and coaches,” Humphries said.


Now, for the first time since he was 18 years old, Humphries will be moving on from one of his main identities, coaching. 


“Coaching has been my identity, I don’t exactly know what’s gonna fill my extra time, I’m going to miss the relationships with players and coaches the most without question,” Humphries said. “I love the players, I love the program, I love the triumphs and the adversity, I love the logistics of trying to figure out how to have over 100 players and have everyone on the same page, but the sport of football I don’t enjoy as much as I used to.”


Humphries, who is also a high school success coordinator, will remain at the school and continue to be a strong influence for the students.


“I’ll still be working here, my job here and my coaching job were completely independent of each other,” Humphries said. “The biggest part of coaching for me has been getting to know the individuals and why they’re a part of Ballard football, getting to know why they’re volunteering so many hours to the team and what their purpose is.” 


Being a head coach for the past eight years had many moments of glory for Humphries, but also came with its fair share of hard, cut-throat decisions. 


“I will say one of the hardest parts of being a coach is having to make difficult decisions that are maybe best for the team but aren’t the best for an individual,” Humphries said. “Two years ago I had to kick two of our students off the team for breaking one of our core rules, and I was really nervous to do it but both of those students did a great job and were back with the team the following season.”


“I don’t know what’s gonna happen after this football season, like I may miss it so much that I’m coming back asking coach Prince if I can be an equipment manager or a ball boy, who knows what’s next,” Humphries said. 

When breaking the news to different people, there were all sorts of different emotions which Humphries received, all of them loving and full of excitement for his future. 


“When I told the team in person, I was going through so many thoughts and feelings, there has been overwhelming love and support from our players, families and coaches, it’s all been very loving and positive,” Humphries said. “For my family and friends, they were shocked, for as long as many of them have known me I’ve been a coach, I reflected and made the decision on my own so a lot of them were surprised but like the players they’re excited to see what’s next.”


“When my highschool head coach Doug Trainer took over Ballard, within his fourth year we were in a state title game, and that was my first year as a coach, he showed me the work ethic needed to be a coach and to run a program at the highest level that you can, Alex Barashkoff taught me football, and Aaron Maul, whos now the Seattle prep coach, taught me how to help students holistically, more than just the sport,” Humphries said.


One of the graduating seniors, Ryan Bohanan (RyBo) played a vital role as an offensive lineman on the football team over his time at the school. Bohanan had nothing but praise for his head coach, Ross Humphries, who taught him throughout his high school career.

“Coach Humphries gave me one of the most connected, and fulfilling high school experiences one could ask for. Through him I met so many students, adults, staff and more that I call my friends,” Bohanon said. “But what made me so grateful was that he allowed me to make my dream come true, to play the game I love for as long as I can. His mentorship and personality is the reason I am going to be able to play college football.”

Bohanon, who will now attend Pacific Lutheran University, plans to continue to play offensive line in college, and has felt fortunate to be taught by Humphries for the amount of values, connections, and memories he was able to build.

Playing football for all four years of his high school career, a flip switched in Bohanon’s mentality, as well as his talent and abilities during his sophomore year.

“Really the turning point in my career was my sophomore year, our starting center got injured and I played the rest of the game and played really well. He told me that I am one of the best recruits for the future of the program, and that I needed to stay on varsity,” Bohanon said. “At that point I knew he believed in me more than any other coach I’d had, that quote alone gave me the confidence that I was indeed the future of the program.”

“When it comes to the success of Ballard football, and the mentality he’s left our players with, Coach Humphries’ legacy will be known by many as the greatest head coach in Ballard’s history, but I will mention that Coach Prince is going to give him a run for his money in these coming years.”

Despite Humphries and his impactful presence leaving the football team, Bohanon still has very high hopes for the future of the team.

“Saying that I’m ecstatic for Coach Prince’s era of being the head coach is an understatement. I’ve had the blessing of knowing Coach Prince since I was in 3rd grade as he worked in the building at Salmon Bay K-8, and I’ve seen him get to show his outstanding personality to his entire community and get rewarded because of it,” Bohanon said. “It’s definitely sad to see such an impactful figure leave the program, but in no way does that mean Ballard is taking a step backwards. What Coach Hump always showed us during the tough times were the 4 C’s – commitment, conduct, cooperation, compete, which will always reign supreme, and that’s why this program will sustain its greatness even after Coach Humphries’ departure.”

“I’ve played for many different coaches through my football career, but Coach Hump always made it for the players. From moving us up to the hardest division in all of Washington high school football, to supporting us in the classroom,” Bohanon said.

For Coach Ross Humphries, the decision, which was overall very hard to make, was one that he had been going back and forth on for a while. “There’s your head and your heart, in my head I knew it was time to move on but for my heart it’s really hard to make because it’s my identity,” Humphries said. “I love our players so freaking much and I love Ballard football so much. I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to do over the past eight years. We took a program which was not in a very good place and have really built it into something to be proud of.”

View Comments (1)
Donate to Talisman

Your donation will support the student journalists of Ballard High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Talisman

Comments (1)

All Talisman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • A

    Anna VeidtMar 22, 2024 at 10:00 am

    For the couple years that my son played football in Ballard I can definitely tell you one thing when it comes to Humphrey. He is one of the best people he was always there for my son and our family no matter what it was. He’s definitely going to be missed, I want to thank you for everything that you have done for the community and for our family throughout the years !!! #Ballard !!! And a big congratulations to Coach Prince let go !!!