by Corey Wiscomb
Orcas High School teacher
It was a gymnasium filled with smiles and great joy on Dec. 15 as Orcas Island High School held a celebration evening for the coaching retirement of local legend Gregg Sasan.
Sasan has led Orcas youth sports teams since 1988. He has coached softball, volleyball, boys’ basketball and girls’ basketball respectively. His more than three-decade tenure will likely never be matched, and while I don’t have the exact number of games he has won as a coach, I am certain that it is a number that will also never be surpassed. And a quick glance through the OHS trophy case will undoubtedly reveal a specific mustache that comes up time and team again and again.
Coach Sasan’s influence has always focused on hard work, sportsmanship, character building and bringing joy and laughter into the passion of sport. Notorious for being a fearsome competitor while at the same time the most easy-going and likable guy, it’s no wonder that Sasan is well-loved by so many of his players — literally generations of them.
At a celebration luau that followed the games on the evening of Dec. 15, Coach Sasan was joined by alumni players, current OHS athletes, faculty, community, friends and family to share a meal and reflect on Sasan’s monumental achievement.
As a former assistant coach under Sasan, I was honored to share words of respect about his amazing accomplishments: “What has always been most impressive to me about the man was/is the size of his heart, always making room for youth, his arms continually opening wider and wider to allow young players a safe space to come and join a team; learn to work hard together and try to accomplish a dream. His presence and actions have always carried the spirit of Aloha, true to Coach Sasan’s Hawaiian roots. What a gift to share with others.”
When the time came for Coach Sasan to speak, he was humble and filled with gratitude — especially for his wife Louise and her patience while he coached all those years. Louise has also been an OHS coach, so she understands deeply the commitment that her husband has been devoted to and what it takes to lead a team. The tradition continues in their daughter, Sada Ashcraft, as she assists in coaching both volleyball and girls’ basketball. And the Sasans’ grandchildren are now finding their way into high school and becoming sports stars themselves, so you can be sure you will find Gregg at the local games, cheering his Vikings on through it all — always smiling and ready to shake a hand or give a hug.
With much love and Aloha, our little pacific northwest island would like to say “Mahalo” (thanks) to Gregg Sasan for all he has given to our community. You are truly a living legend, coach, who has inspired and brightened the lives of countless young athletes, whether they are superstars or not.