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|Richard win away from 200|
Win No. 200 will be no different than any other win for Monterey High boys basketball coach Eric Richard.
"It s all about the kids," said Richard, who sat at 199 wins going into Tuesday night's game against Oak Hill. "I never made a shot, never defended anyone and never got a rebound. I just try to get my players to believe in what I am trying to teach them. My reward is seeing the kids have success."
Richard played football and baseball at Block High.
"The only regret I have is not playing basketball," Richard said. "I enjoy the sport."
After graduating from Louisiana-Monroe in 1994, Richard returned to his alma mater as assistant boys basketball coach under Randy Crawford.
"Working under Randy Crawford for four years taught me a lot about the game of basketball," Richard said. "We had a lot of success at Block and success is what really helps you grow into the sport."
Richard took over as head coach at Block when Crawford took the Monterey girls head coaching job in 1997. Vidalia principal Rick Brown coached the boys team that season.
"I never had an assistant coach until Eric joined me at Block," said Crawford, who is now principal at Grant High School in Dry Prong. "Eric did a great job. He was always wanting to learn and studied the game. He has some great ideas and insight. He was very innovative and came up with some ideas on offense and defense that helped us become a better team."
Richard jumped from Block to Monterey to Harrisonburg before coming back to Monterey.
"I have been blessed to be at all three places," Richard said. "I've had the fortune of coaching some real good kids. I couldn't see going anywhere else
Richard served as head boys basketball and assistant in football, basketball and baseball during his time at Block.
"Sports has always been in my blood," Richard said. "I had some ideas about doing something different, but sports was the only thing I could see myself doing every day. I enjoy being around the kids and teaching them the game. I have learned as much from them as they have learned from me. You have different people with different behaviors. Every day in teaching and coaching is a new experience."
Richard has taught Social Studies and English and continues as the physical education teacher at Monterey.
Richard came to Monterey in 2007 as a teacher and was told he would take over the baseball pogrom after Hank Zizzi retired the following school year.
But Zizzi died in October of 2007 and Richard became head baseball coach in 2008.
When Jeffery Odom left Monterey for Jena in 2009, Richard took the boys basketball job at Monterey.
While Richard enjoys coaching basketball and baseball, he admits basketball is his favorite.
"I enjoy the strategy of it and I enjoy the practices just as much as the games," he said.
Richard said memorable wins include beating Glenmora at the buzzer his first year back at Monterey, beating Oak Hill this season and beating Epps when he was at Harrisonburg
"This year's team is a prime example of why I enjoy coaching," Richard said. "We were awful in the beginning. But this team has improved tenfold. And that's the greatest award when you see players improve."
Richard admitted advancing to the final four in boys basketball at Monterey is a steep challenge.
"These kids have grown up playing baseball," Richard said. "They do not start playing any organized type of basketball until they get to the sixth or seventh grade. There may be one day where there is enough talent to where a group could make it to the state tournament. But with all that is going on with the Louisiana High School Athletic Association and having to battle charter and private schools, the playing field is even more challenging."
But Richard will tell you it's not all about winning.
"What this community wants is for their teams to work hard, is committed and does a good job of representing their school and community. And I believe you have that with the boys and girls teams here."
Richard said not a lot of Class B or Class C schools have as well-rounded a sports program as Monterey.
"I don't think a lot of schools our size compete as well in baseball, basketball, softball and track as well as we do," he said.
And, of course, at a small school, coaching children of former players is a common ingredient.
"The parents and children have a genuine feel for this school," Richard said. "They love this school. And there's great tradition here thanks to people like Mr. Jack (Bairnsfather)."
And he's seen some change over the last 14 years.
"I don't think the kids change as much of it's a case of what is more acceptable now," Richard said. "I can only imagine what teachers and coaches when through around the time of Elvis. There are things kids say now because they seem acceptable because they see it on television that I still have a problem with. The biggest thing has been adjusting to what society deems acceptable - I'm not saying I agree with it. I have to battle through that conception with the kids and break through those barriers. But kids are kids, they face some of the same challenges we faced years ago."
Richard sees no sign of hanging up the whistle anytime soon.
"When it gets to where it's not fun anymore, then I will know it's time," he said. "I don't see that happening anytime soon."
Richard and his wife, Glenda, who is educational diagnostician for Concordia Parish schools, have two sons, Ryne (14) and Reid (12).
"Sometimes it's tough to come into another small community from the outside," Richard said. "But the people here accepted us as their own. That's another reason I've been very blessed to be here."
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