After years at Valley College and more than four decades coaching football, Jim Fenwick ends his season.
By Gene Wickham, Staff Writer
Football coach and Valley College Athletic Director Jim Fenwick is retiring after 46 years of coaching football at various colleges and universities around the country.
He has expressed a diverse love of sports which he exhibits through his involvement with tennis.
“I was always an instructor first, meaning that I taught classes and coached football until I became the athletic director,” he said. “Even then and now, I really enjoy teaching tennis classes for the college, as I have grown up playing the game and enjoy teaching others to play the lifetime sport.”
Originally a native of Idaho, Fenwick grew up in the San Fernando Valley where he attended Grover Cleveland High School in Reseda. Later, he went on to Pierce College in Woodland Hills.
After playing football in high school, Fenwick played one year at Pierce (1970-71) and four years at Wichita State University (1971-1974) where he was team captain. He later earned a Master's of Arts in education at Cal Lutheran University in 1976.
His coaching career began at Pierce College in 1974 and continued at Valley and CSUN through 1988. In 1988, he joined the University of Miami, Ohio and the University of the Pacific as special teams coach/running backs. In 1991, he returned to Valley for six years where he was voted coach of the year in 1994. His five-year record at Valley was 50-15.
In 1997, Fenwick returned to CSUN during turbulent times for athletics at the university. In 2001, CSUN eliminated their football program and other sports for budgetary reasons. Fenwick tried to intercede and reflected on his participation.
“It has been a decision that I have questioned ever since, thinking that maybe I could have helped prevent them from making the decision to cancel their program, as it was an opportunity for many young people locally to play and represent the SF Valley,” he said.
With the cancellation of football at CSUN, he eventually accepted a position as the offensive coordinator for the University of New Mexico in 1998.
He met his wife, Galye, at Wichita State. He has two sons: Casey and Tyler. Tyler and his wife Angela have three children — Kyleigha, Kayden and Kiptyn — and Casey and his wife Ashley have two children: London, and Kai. Fenwick was stricken with Leukemia in 2004. According to a recent Los Angeles Times profile, the prognosis was not looking good until a bone marrow transplant from his son Casey saved his life.
By 2001, Fenwick became the offensive coordinator at Occidental College in LA before returning to Valley as head football coach in 2009. He was promoted to athletic director in 2012. Through the years, Fenwick has been head coach for Pierce, Valley and CSUN.
“He’s had a tremendous impact. I’m going to miss Coach Fenwick tremendously. I know that I can rely on his council,” Valley President Barry Gribbons remarked. “The interests of the student athletes were always of Jim’s highest priority. He is incredibly dedicated, has worked tirelessly for all the athletic programs. He’s got a huge heart and passion for athletics and supporting student athletes and we’re just gonna miss him tremendously.”
Reflecting on his 46 years coaching sports, Fenwick recalls his work with players and students.
“Playing the game and coaching have been challenging and fun,” he reflected. “The game has taught me several attributes of trust, competition, fundamentals, work habits, collaboration, accountability, research and preparation that have been part of the challenge in teaching. I am most proud of being a teacher first, to help individuals develop such attributes in their prep for life beyond the game.”
Valley plans to have someone fill Fenwick’s position on an interim basis and then recruit for a permanent replacement later. Gribbons said there are several candidates for the interim position, but did not list any names.