By Fred J. Robledo, staff writer
When it comes to Northview High School basketball, the big curiosity is when the school will finally name the gym or floor after the house that legendary boys basketball coach Ron Rice built, not who would take over following his more than four decades at the school.
Naturally, most assumed, it would be his son Brian, his longtime assistant for more than a decade and also a social studies teacher at the school.
But in what is sure to be one of the most controversial decisions in years, Northview athletic director David Ochoa and first-year principal Dr. Josie Paredes have decided not to promote Brian Rice as the boys varsity basketball coach, according to Ochoa.
Instead, Ochoa explained, Paredes is expected to name a walk-on coach to replace Ron Rice, who retired this season after 44 years while grooming his son to take over.
Ochoa, also in charge of the wrestling program, would not comment on the reasoning behind the decision but acknowledged he supported his principal’s decision. Ochoa also said he expected the new coach to be named soon. Messages have been left for Paredes and Brian Rice seeking comment, but were not returned.
“I’ve been here 24 years and I’m behind her (Paredes) decision,” Ochoa said. “I think she’s a good person, and it wasn’t an easy decision for her, but it’s her decision. There’s just a difference in philosophy.”
At the Tribune/Star-News all-star classic at Damien a couple weeks ago, Ron Rice said he was disappointed the school decided to fly the position instead of naming his son the next coach.
“Mark Sims, the principal before (Paredes), said it was cut and dry Brian would be the coach when I left,” Ron Rice said. “Those were his wishes. He told me to coach as long as I liked and when you’re ready to make the switch, make the switch. It always seemed like the natural thing to do. He’s here, he teaches here and he’s been doing this with me for a long time.”
Ron Rice, who began teaching at the school in 1969 and became the head coach in 1971, retired this season after nearly 600 victories and winning the league title seven of the past ten years. He is not only one of the most decorated coaches in Valley history, he’s one of the most respected too.
“After 44 great years, to have this (decision) in my mind tarnishes it a bit,” Ron Rice said. “Obviously, it bothers me.”
It’s a difficult decision to understand given Ron Rice’s legacy, longevity and commitment to the school, that his son will likely be passed over for a walk-on coach.
“I’m in an awkward position being his dad,” Ron Rice said. “I didn’t get a whole lot of input and wasn’t asked a whole lot (about hiring the next coach).
“It’s obviously known what my wishes were and it’s been something Brian’s been looking forward to for a long time since he began teaching at Northview. He’s been part of this school forever, he started as our ball-boy, so, yeah, it’s hard for me to understand why they would do this.”