State champion basketball coach resigns, questions Washougal’s commitment to coaches

Britney Ervin, seen here celebrating during the 2019 Class 2A state championship basketball game, has resigned as the head coach of the Washougal Panthers. Photo by Mike Schultz
Britney Ervin, seen here celebrating during the 2019 Class 2A state championship basketball game, has resigned as the head coach of the Washougal Panthers. Photo by Mike Schultz

Britney Ervin says lack of support from district led to her resignation

Britney Ervin has had a little more than a month to think about her decision to resign as the head coach of the Washougal girls basketball program.

The only coach in program history to win a state championship, Ervin said she had had enough of what she says is a pattern of poor behavior from some parents, and she said the school district is getting an awful reputation for not supporting its coaches and sports programs.

Some parents went on what Ervin described as a “witch hunt,” trying to get her fired. In her resignation letter to the Washougal School Board, Ervin said she was not confident that the school district would have her back if the battle with parents continued.

“The word is out about our district. People in Southwest Washington are aware of the instability and lack of support our programs are receiving,” Ervin wrote. “Good coaches don’t want to come here, and current good coaches are resigning.”

She wrote the letter to ensure there was a record of what she feels is happening at Washougal. 

Still, she wanted to make it clear on Thursday in a phone interview that she appreciated her time coaching at Washougal and she loved her players. The Panthers made it to the state tournament in three of her five years, winning the Class 2A state championship in 2019.

“I have had an incredible five years at Washougal coaching and getting to know different kids, growing as a coach, growing the players, being there for them, learning from them,” Ervin said. “It was probably some of the best years of my life.”

Ervin resigned effective June 30.

“My resignation comes at the heels of a parent(s) reaching out to current and former players, families, and community members on merely a ‘witch hunt’ to find a reason for me to be fired,” Ervin wrote to the school board. “This behavior in our school community cannot and will not be tolerated. I understand coaching philosophy differences, however personal attacks on character … is something I didn’t sign up for and I expect my employer and elected school board members to take a stance on this issue.”

Ervin went on to write that she has seen problems in other sports at Washougal, as well. Another program, she noted, has had five coaches in the past four years.

“This is now a pattern of behavior since it has been successful … over and over again with volleyball,” Ervin wrote. 

Parents see that they can go over the coach’s head, straight to administration, and the coach is put in a difficult situation, Ervin said. That is what she started experiencing this year.

“There is no hierarchy or chain of command here, and there is no way for us to solve problems when parents continuously run to the district office and get whatever they want,” she wrote.

“The culture was created by top-level administrators allowing this behavior to occur and not empowering their own employees,” Ervin added.

Washougal’s new athletic director, Brian Wilde, said the school is appreciative of Ervin’s work during her coaching tenure. 

“This program helped shape some amazingly talented youth and has seen great success in the past few years,” Wilde wrote in an email to Clark County Today. “We’re supportive of her decision to step back from her coaching role to support her family.”

Ervin and her husband are expecting their first child later this year.

“I have started the process of looking for the next coach who will continue to grow the Washougal program,” Wilde noted. “I have reached out to our families and athletes in the girls basketball program to gather their voice about the qualities and attributes that our hiring team should look at, as well as the strengths and needs of the program.”

It should be noted that Wilde, a former administrator in Camas Public Schools, was recently hired as the athletic director at Washougal. He has not met with Ervin in any official capacity.

“As a new associate principal for activities and athletics, my vision for our programs is to see every Washougal High School student connected with something beyond the school day, letting students explore their interests and developing their talents,” Wilde wrote. “WHS has a wide range of athletic opportunities, and a supportive community that provides the resources to make this happen.”

Ervin’s letter to the school board could have ripple effects across the region. Coaches in other sports, at other schools, have quietly complained that parent overreach has become an issue, and it is a reason many coaches are stepping away from the sideline.

Ervin was hired prior to the 2017-18 season. She guided the Panthers to the state tournament in her first year, with the Panthers reaching the state round of 12 at the Hardwood Classic.

The next season, as the No. 7 seed, the Panthers went to Spokane to pick up a regional victory, the only road team to win in the seeding round that season. That victory advanced the Panthers to the elite eight. From there, Washougal went 3-0 in Yakima to win the Class 2A state championship. Ervin was named the Washington state Coach of the Year.

The Panthers returned to state this past season, advancing to the elite eight.

“I’m just really thankful and really happy that I had that experience,” Ervin said. “It was just an incredible journey.”

Her plan is to take this next school year off from coaching as her family prepares for the baby. Ervin said she hopes to coach again in the future.

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Isabella Cox
Isabella Cox
3 months ago

Not particularly an objective piece – there were longterm problems with this coach ignoring the bench and only playing and coaching starters, making kids feel verbally abused, uncoached and unimportant. Parents and players would approach her for discussions or questions and were ignored. McGarvie, Gibbons, and others commented on her coaching mistakes and failures, and once the Bea group of kids graduated, she had no concern or care for any other kids coming up. The “witch hunt” did not happen in a vacuum but because students and families’ concerns were ignored, kids were getting hurt (both emotionally and physically), and she started a family. It is easy to blame people other than the head & asst. coaches and players but when you, as the coach, create that certain situation, you cannot complain about it later. Her comments were petty and shortsighted, devastating and hurting the incoming and other players and families who played no part in any of this. Don’t create a monster if you don’t have the character and fortitude to fix it – Coach Ervin had the control in the situation and did not act appropriately to resolve it. Her quitting has the impact she sought – damaging the children in her care.

John Griffin
3 months ago

I usually don’t get involved in these comment sections, but as a long time coach, teacher and administrator in Clark County they don’t get much better than Britney. You’ll be hard pressed to find any coach in The area to say a bad thing about her or her coaching style.
It seems like an everyday thing now that a coach gets tired of the “stuff” from parents and calls it a career. It’s a sad state of affairs we are creating…

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