River Ridge HS, Timberline HS
Hall of Fame Class of 2019
Phil Lonborg can best be described as a hall of fame coach by the description offered by his former athlete, DeJuan Frye, when he shared, “His legacy is he’s always loving and he’s a good coach.” Phil graduated from Elma High School in 1973, and he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Education from Western Washington University. From 1977 to 1980, he served as the Intramural Sports Director at Barns Elementary School in Kelso and the head basketball coach at Coweeman Junior High School. From 1980 to 1989, he was the Intramural Sports Director for Evergreen Forest Elementary School in Lacey. Between 1984 and 1992, he served as an assistant varsity football coach, basketball coach, and track coach at Timberline High School. It was 1990 when he was appointed the head track and field coach at Timberline. In 1993, he was named the head track coach at River Ridge High School.
Phil was a head coach that worked tirelessly to encourage kids to turn out for a sport that he believed offered endless possibilities. Not afraid to come across as corny, he viewed his coaching along the lines of “if you build it, they will come, and they will come committed and ready.” It is his reputation for developing athletes and helping them to realize how they can maximize their potential that defines his career. He would send letters to kids at River Ridge offering the opportunity to turn out for track and field. He saw in the kids at his school potential, and to them, they saw a coach who wanted to work with them and put the time in with them. Brianna Schmid, a state champion athlete in 2007, shared that Coach Lonborg “is a human being who looks to better others and takes everything around him and polishes it up.” When at Timberline, he found success. He mentored seven individual state champions and guided two teams to league and district titles. But it was his move to River Ridge that cemented his connection to being a Hall of Fame coach. The results of his efforts as head coach at River Ridge are one of the most amazing in state history!
Between 1993 and 2016, Coach Lonborg guided River Ridge to three team championships with over twenty top eight team banners from the state meet. His teams won twenty-four league championships and twenty district championships. He mentored fifty individual state champions while being recognized by his peers in the league twenty-one times as Coach of the Year. Twice he was voted as the State Coach of the Year for track and field. During this time, he was also recognized in his school seven different times as the building teacher of the year. Teaching is important to him, and in the spirit of teaching, Phil has been a tireless advocate for the profession of coaching. Phil has worked to share his knowledge with others through numerous clinic sessions around the northwest. With true commitment, Coach Lonborg put the individual development of each individual athlete at the center of his coaching. He believed that the sport offered an opportunity that required a genuine effort to recruit kids to turn out, but he is defined by his commitment to excellence founded on the principals of training each athlete while caring for them as human beings.
Phil’s tireless commitment to the sport, his important mentorship of his athletes, his collaborative work with all the assistant coaches and colleagues, his important contributions to coaches education, provide us with the opportunity and honor to welcome him into the Washington State Track & Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame.