Fort Vancouver hires new basketball coach

Ensley takes over for Thompson

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter



James Ensley says he is ready for his first head coaching job.

He had eight seasons to study under Scott Thompson, after all.

Ensley was named the new boys basketball coach at Fort Vancouver earlier this month, taking over for Thompson, who resigned after nine seasons with the Trappers.

“He left a great legacy. He’s taught me since Day 1,” Ensley said of Thompson. “He showed me the things that need to be done to be successful at Fort.”

The Trappers finished third in the Class 3A district basketball tournament this winter and advanced to the bi-district tournament.

“I’m just really excited about this opportunity,” Ensley said. “He did not leave the cupboard bare. Four of the five starters are coming back.”

Dirk Hansen, Fort Vancouver’s athletic director, said Ensley is the “best cure” to relieving the concerns about Thompson’s departure.

He said Thompson had a huge impact on the school. The players had such a positive experience with Thompson, it was fitting to hire someone from his staff.

Still, there were five finalists for the job.

Again, Hansen said, Ensley came out on top after all of the interviews.

“James has gone above and beyond the call of duty in doing the extra things,” Hansen said.

A math teacher at Fort Vancouver, Ensley walks the halls at lunch and breaks, talking with the athletes, asking how they are doing every day.

“I also feel it’s important to hire from within. You want to develop your assistant coaches to become head coaches. This is James’ chance,” Hansen said.

Ensley has also been an assistant coach in football and baseball.

Now, he has his own program.

“I know the kids. I know the school. I’m really excited about it,” he said. “I just want to play some basketball games.”