New Coach, New Expectations

AnnaMaria Corona , Editor

     The soft, white and blue striped sphere flies through the air, bouncing off the limbs and palms of female student-athletes.

     The marshmallow-like ball reaches its peak in the stuffy filled air of the gym and sits at its climax, almost like it was catching its breath or admiring the view that no other has seen.

     Then, it falls down to be hit by yet  another palm, but this time it bounces out of bounds. “Time out!” shouts new head coach, Rich Thompson, of River City’s varsity volleyball team.

     As he requested one of his two timeouts allowed he walks out onto to the shiny wood embedded court with his forearms in the shape of a T to get the referee’s attention.

     Not once did Thompson yell or raise his voice at the girls, but he encourages them to ball out without any hesitation and finishes his last eight seconds of his time out with simple advice.

“Do better.”

     The girls gather their hands in the center of the circular group they are placed in as Thompson looks at the starters and says,

“Do better on three- one, two, three,” they call at the top of their voices those exact words and sprint out to their positions on the court.

     Thompson joined the coaching staff for his first time here at River City but it most certainly is not his first time coaching. Thompson’s club-coaching career began in 1997, holding the assistant coach position for Santa Cruz boys’ 17’s Junior Olympics. In 2000, Coach Rich transitioned to High School volleyball, and as his first gig he was Varsity Head Coach for the Valley High boys and girls programs.

     “He’s been a coach for a really long time and even coached USYVL which is the United states youth volleyball league,” Senior, Liliana Flores on the girls’ volleyball team,stated about  her new coach.

     Being a coach doesn’t just come naturally, it takes experience. Thompson’s encounter with volleyball began at a young age and he kept it going by playing with collegiate athletes in Colorado and CSU Sacramento areas. He also participated in four years of club Junior Olympic volleyball with Team Santa Cruz from 1992-1996. 

     Handling a side job and 15 teenage girls can be a full plate at times. Thompson cannot live off an income of a High School team coach, that’s why he works in the investment advisory business and has his securities and insurance license.

     Thompson enjoys playing adult volleyball during his free time. He has also competed in the Alcatraz Island swim 12 times, most recently swimming his fastest race this past September.

     Coach Rich incorporates volleyball fundamentals and strategic competitive play, while emphasizing strong team leadership and positive behavior on and off the court.  He believes in contributing to the discipline of the sport through hard work, lots of volleyball play and building fitness and body strength.

     “He pushes us to our limits every day and expects so much from us. He is extremely more hands on than the last coach,” positively replied Flores when asked what she thinks of her new coach.

     Every coach has their favorite quotes and sayings.Thompson’s are, “Good is not good enough when better is expected,Luck is where preparation meets opportunity,and The road to success is always under construction.”

     Being a coach takes a lot of responsibility and role model leadership traits. For student-athletes that are teenagers, they tend to pick up any influential happenings and stick with it.

     “I have learned that you have to work hard before you are able to play hard, and that hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, ” claims Flores.

     Being a new coach can be difficult because you are hired to boss people around and automatically are given respect without even knowing personality traits.

     “He kind of acts like a teenager around us but never understands our jokes. He’s getting along great with us,” explained Flores. “To be cool, he’s super professional and all business when it comes to game time though,” continued Flores.

     With hopefully many years to come to Thompson’s coaching career at River City High School, he is still working on getting to know the girls while keeping his expectations high for them. He has set this bar high for the girls because he knows they can succeed  when they put hard work into it.

     “The team is better with him. He expects a lot from us so we have to deliver,” finished Flores.