Longtime educator Ferger leaves legacy
By Mike Vlahovich
Memories of high school basketball can be fleeting, but what Paul Fletcher recalls clearly is the person: longtime East Valley teacher and basketball coach Bill Ferger.
"I will always remember Bill Ferger for emphasizing teamwork and the team aspect of it," said Fletcher, now a retired Air Force major general. "What a positive guy he was. He always had a smile on his face. Even when he was mad at us, it wasn't going to last long. He was a very, very good mathematics teacher. I remember him being excited about life."
Ferger, 78, died Oct. 6. The Liberty Lake resident had a 37-year career as a teacher, coach and administrator in the East Valley School District.
Ferger graduated from Post Falls High School and then went on to earn bachelor and master of education degrees. After taking the East Valley High basketball team to state in 1968, he moved on to work in administration at the elementary school level.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Lila, his son, Bill Ferger Jr., and daughter, Nikki Holbert.
Ferger took the Knights basketball team to state in 1968; it was the second - and last - time in their history.
At state in Tacoma the Knights went two-and-out, losing to Prosser 81-66 and Eatonville 84-68. The Knights' other appearance came three years prior.
They were playing in the Northeast A League at the time and as a few of Ferger's players recalled, he taught three up-tempo offenses - Tom, Dick and Harry - geared to get the ball to an open player, usually Fletcher, a leading scorer.
"He was not much of a defensive coach, but he understood offense really, really well," Fletcher said. "We ran relentlessly."
John Clift, a member of the 1968 state qualifying team, said Ferger made practices and school enjoyable.
"He always jumped in and played and kids would be wrestling with him on the floor. He was a big kid himself," said Clift, who taught Ferger's son, Bill Jr., at Central Valley.
Fletcher wrote a note to Lila Ferger upon learning of Bill Ferger's passing: "I have many fond memories of Bill from the classroom to the basketball court and baseball diamond. I learned a lot from him, not just academically, but for lasting and important lessons about leadership and tenacity, working hard and the value of teamwork. I remember about him being excited about life, living in the moment, being positive and setting the example about how to lead. I will forever be fortunate to have learned from him and known him."