Dick Armstrong Story
Dick Armstrong started his career in Snohomish in 1963 as a biology and physical education teacher and - unforgettably - as head football coach.
Armstrong retired from Snohomish in 1994 with 272 career victories - making him at the time the winningest coach in Washington state high school football history. In his 32 seasons at Snohomish he compiled 243 wins. His teams won two state championships and won or shared 16 league titles, including 13 straight from 1976-1988. This period is often referred to as the “Armstrong Era.” Armstrong passed away in 1999.
Armstrong received many honors while coaching at Snohomish. In 1977, the Everett Herald named him “Man of the Year” in sports. In 1978, he was named the Washington State Football Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Athletic Association.
Armstrong was best known for his “tough-love” approach to the game. He would push his athletes hard and demand they leave nothing on the field. But the key to his ability to motivate was that his players knew Armstrong genuinely cared about them.
Snohomish High School class of 1965 quarterback and defensive back, Rick Reed, was a junior when Armstrong left Camas High School to become head football coach at Snohomish. Reed, who thrived under Armstrong’s tough direction and went on to set several records playing football at Washington State University, credits Armstrong with his success.
“Everything about Coach Armstrong was big,” Reed remembers. “Including his hands - those huge thumbs he’d use to poke us in the chest to get our attention- and his heart. There was no doubt that Coach loved the game and hated to lose. We beat teams that were better than we were because we didn’t want to disappoint Coach Armstrong. He was tough and intimidating, but we knew he loved us.”
What former Snohomish High School football player Ron Knutsen says may not be as well known, “Coach Armstrong did so much for kids, off the field.” In 1994, Armstrong gave back his $5,000 coaching stipend to keep the sophomore football program from being cut. He has been credited with touching the lives of more than 3,000 students during his time in Snohomish.
Because of Armstrong’s dedication to his athletes and students, alumni have joined together to honor his memory with the Dick Armstrong Memorial Scholarship Fund. The fund has provided the beautiful life-size bronze statue of Armstrong now in place at Veterans Memorial Stadium, and established a perpetual memorial scholarship for Snohomish students in his honor.