Passing the Baton
As Charlie Ricards retires after 40 years at Woodcrest Christian, his records and achievements are public knowledge, but behind these external details stands a man of amazing character. Despite his success as a coach, his goal was never to amass wins, championships, and records, but to help shape the lives of student athletes. That investment has returned a hundred-fold as dozens of former athletes credit Coach Ricards for shaping them into the men and women they are today, including one alum who will continue the tradition of excellence on the frontier of athletics.
One of the strengths of Woodcrest Christian School has been the ability to attract and retain teachers who stay for extended periods. One of the best examples of that sort of teacher is Charlie Ricards, who devoted forty years of faithful service to our campus. But we recognize that all good things must come to an end, and when he announced last January that the 2019-20 academic year would be his last, those who heard it still felt a sense of loss. After all he had contributed to the school over those four decades, we had to realize that would bring a major transition, and that transition has come in the person of Ryan Anderson who was appointed as new Athletic Director during this past summer.
Even though Charlie joined the staff here in 1980, he didn’t come as a rookie either in the classroom or the court, for he had taught and coached both in Hood River, Oregon, and locally in Riverside. After a year teaching eighth grade math, he was recruited to take over the Varsity Girls Volleyball program which he led for three seasons. Three years later, he added the Varsity Boys Basketball team to his responsibilities, and stood at the helm there for seventeen seasons, during which he amassed a 278- 147 record, won the league title five times, made the playoffs every year, and won through to the quarter-finals three times, and the semis once. Then in 1987, he helped get a Varsity Boys Volleyball program going, and he stayed with it for an amazing twenty-seven years. His accomplishments during those years were almost unbelievable: a record of 417-48, twenty-three league titles, and a win streak of 105 straight matches to climax his career as our volleyball coach! But even all this is not the entire picture of Charlie’s coaching career. He coached Varsity Boys Tennis for nine years and Varsity Boys Golf from 1985-90 and then again 2002-2020. In that latter role, his golf teams captured three league titles and eight league sportsmanship awards.
But Coach Ricards’ contribution to WCS athletics didn’t end with his coaching, because he served as Athletic Director from 1984 until his retirement in 2020. As AD, and later Vice-Principal of Athletics, Charlie’s meticulous attention to details made our athletic program run as smooth as a lake at dawn. But it was his devotion to character building that really marked him as special: his focus on integrity and sportsmanship in leading the athletic program brought thirteen League Sportsmanship Awards in the course of an eighteen-year period. In a very real sense, Coach Ricards has been Woodcrest Christian athletics. Even more, he provided athletic leadership not only on our campus, but across the Inland Empire and Southern California sports scene.
TAKING OVER THE REINS
The fall of 1989 marked the arrival of a new seventh grader at Woodcrest Christian who came from Temple Baptist in Perris. When Ryan Anderson got to WCHS, he participated in sports every season, winning nine varsity letters in the process. Those letters came in tennis, volleyball, basketball, and baseball. Other than playing for Coach Prater in baseball, his coach for all the other sports was Coach Ricards. In Coach Ricards, Ryan found “a spiritual leader and father figure any young man would want.” The genuine care that reached beyond the athlete to the person really stood out to him. He learned that there was more to being an athlete than a win-loss record; the relationships developed in the process and the emphasis on character were lessons he learned well. So, after graduating in 1995, he was soon back on campus as a coach while he completed his college degree. Then shortly after he earned that degree, he joined the staff as a teacher in 2002. His classroom was the athletic court or field, but coaching remained a key focus. Since that time, he has coached Middle School Basketball, JV Boys Basketball and Baseball, JV Girls Volleyball, Varsity Softball, and Flag Football. The lessons about integrity and character that he learned from his mentor have taken root
Wanting to prepare himself for greater responsibility, Coach Anderson earned a Master’s in Athletic Administration several years ago, so when Coach Ricards announced his departure, Ryan felt confident in throwing his hat in the ring, and that confidence was rewarded when he be
came only the fourth Athletic Director in the school’s seventy-two year history. But what a time to assume the reins: the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown high school sports into t
otal chaos. Coach Anderson is eager to get the student athletes back on campus and working with their coaches, but the problem of finding coaches has been complicated by the bizarre schedule. He’s not even sure we can field all the sports we have offered in recent years.
Undoubtedly, a challenging year faces our new Athletic Director, but he is looking beyond and dreaming big. And although victories have been fewer recently, and AD Anderson is seeking to raise the level of success across the board, he made the following commitment: “We will never jeopardize our reputation of having high character and playing with integrity.” CIF’s motto may be “Victory with honor,” but at Woodcrest Christian we answer to a higher authority, and the building of godly athletes remains “Job One.” So, while new hands guide the helm of our athletic program, it looks like Woodcrest Christian will retain its focus on the character of our athletes. The baton has been passed successfully, and our thanks go to Charlie Ricards and our congratulations to Ryan Anderson!
FUN FACTS ABOUT ATHLETIC DIRECTOR, RYAN ANDERSON.
I was born in Riverside,
but grew up on a 10-acre ranch in Menifee
I converted my daughters’ old playhouse
into a chicken coop
Sport he just can’t live without:
Baseball, because it’s one of the most difficult sports to master and challenges the body both physically and most of all mentally
Advice to aspiring athletes:
God has given you a unique gift, so don’t allow the fear of failure to keep you from competing; Accept the challenge, and give it your all.