CHS Track Program bids farewell to Coach Rick Edwards

California High School Head Track Coach Rick Edwards, at far left, with members of the CHS varsity track team and assistant coach Rich Matzes, at right.

California High School Head Track Coach Rick Edwards, at far left, with members of the CHS varsity track team and assistant coach Rich Matzes, at right. Photo by April Arnett.

After 16 years as the head track coach at California High School, Rick Edwards, California, is leaving the position (as well as his position as sixth-grade Social Studies teacher at California Middle School) to take on a couple of new roles. He will start off the 2014-15 school year as the new CMS Assistant Principal and athletic director for the California R-I School District.

What prompted him to make this career change? "It was a good move for my family, and this way I'll be able to be more involved in my kids' sports," he said.

Edwards, 47, and his wife Heather have two children: Zoe, 11, and Will, 7.

"I actually had Zoe in my class this year," he said with a grin.

Edwards said he will divide his time between the high school and middle school. "I'll be at the middle school for the first half of the day, and at the high school for the second half."

He joined the CMS staff for the 1998-99 school year as the sixth grade English teacher. He has also been assistant coach for the CHS football team for 16 years.

"I coached middle school basketball for two years and youth summer baseball for three or four years," he said. "And soccer."

Originally from Illinois, Edwards attended Eureka College in Illinois, then earned his teaching degree from Northern Illinois University.

"My first teaching job (right out of college) was at Osage Upper Elementary," he said. "I also coached football and basketball there."

After commuting from Rocky Mount to California for two years, Edwards moved to California in 2000.

"When I first started coaching track at California, we hardly had any equipment," he said. "We had the old track that we practiced on. We had two coaches when everyone else had four. Now we have a nice facility and four coaches. When I took it over, California hadn't qualified anybody for the state meet since 1992. We've made a hard push to be competitive in the area and at the state level."

Edwards said he is very confident in his replacement. "Coach (Jon) Lindquist is going to be the head track coach. He's a very knowledgeable shot and discus guy, and he's very good with the kids."

Looking ahead, he said, "It takes a lot to run the track program. A lot of good coaches, and a lot of good parents have helped make this program what it is. To be able to have home meets, you have to have a lot of help. So many have volunteered, a lot from CMS. Joe and Gwen Kirby have been so great and helped so much. Gwen has organized everything that is extra, she's been so helpful in getting things done. Joe brings a tremendous amount of knowledgeable. He was an All-American at Nebraska. He knows how to pull a track meet off. Those two have helped us tremendously. They're still helping, even though they no longer have a kid in track."

"We've also had a lot of kids help this program grow. From kids who point a few points a meet, to those who get 40 points. You have to have the kids who are going to put the effort in to score points, however they can. We've also had great community support. We have good crowds at the meets. All of this is helpful to our program. We've had several local businesses donate a lot to help us out. It's been so great to get help from so many people, which has helped us be more successful."

Edwards said he is also very appreciative of the coaching staff. "I've had a lot of good assistant coaches. Coach (Rich) Matzes has been with the program since I started, and he's one of the best jump coaches in the area. Coach (Josh) Grotzinger helped our distance program immensely. He is a big reason we were able to add that sport. Coach Lindquist has done a great job with the throwers. I'm old enough now that we have an ex-athlete coaching, Rhiannon Kendrick."

Edwards added, "I just want to see the track program continue to grow."

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