MUKILTEO — Ivan McLennan enjoyed a fruitful college and professional playing career before planting himself in Snohomish County as a first-time head football coach.
The former Washington State University linebacker was announced last month as Kamiak High School’s newest head coach, replacing Bryant Thomas, who stepped down for an assistant coaching job at Portland State. Thomas had been at the helm for the previous five seasons.
The hiring makes McLennan the fourth head coach in Kamiak’s 30-year school history, following Thomas, Dan Mack and Tim Mead.
The 29-year-old McLennan spent the past two years under Thomas as an assistant and defensive line coach, he also spent a year coaching at Meadowdale in 2020.
As his pro playing career began nearing a close, McLennan started to get more involved with coaching at the high school level. In 2021, he finished his master’s degree in history and teaching at WSU.
After dislocating his knee in 2019 while playing for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League, McLennan went back to Wazzu to peck away at his master’s.
“When I got hurt and went back home to rehab, I felt like I needed a plan B,” McLennan said. “That fall I got hired as a teacher (at Kamiak) and coach. .. It was kind of a perfect alignment for me, it’s truly a blessing to have the job.”
McLennan also played for British Columbia and Montreal in the CFL from 2017-2018, and finished his pro career in the Indoor Football League, signing with the Massachusetts Pirates in June of 2022.
In two seasons at Washington State, he totaled 61 tackles over 25 games. He was a part of the Cougars’ 2015 Sun Bowl victory over Miami as a senior.
In 2016, he signed an NFL deal with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent.
“I was more excited about getting the Kamiak head coaching job than I was when the Falcons called me for the camp invite,” McLennan said. “This is my dream job and I’m so excited for the opportunity.”
Prior to his time as a Cougar, McLennan attended El Camino Junior College in California for two years, where he was named a JUCO All-American as a sophomore before transferring to Wazzu.
After being heavily recruited by legendary coach Mike Leach, McLennan said that Washington State was one of the only Pac-12 schools to offer him.
“I felt extremely loyal to them and I felt very passionate about going to Wazzu,” he said. “My journey in the state definitely started there and Washington is now my home.”
Bringing extensive career experience to Kamiak is something that McLennan plans to use in helping continue the program’s growth both on and off the field.
“I’ve played at a high level for five years and I’ve coached for three years,” he said. “I’ve been coached by some legendary coaches and had some great mentors and examples in my career. I listened to them and how they did things, that’s part of what motivated me to get into the coaching world.”
The Knights have made the Week 10 playoffs for the past two seasons, going 3-7 in 2022.
“Our staff want our kids to have the best success possible,” McLennan said of the Kamiak community. “The support and admiration we get from the members. … that’s truly something I appreciate, and I want to make those people proud to go to a football game on a Friday night.”