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Gorches: Roydon Richards keeps burning the candle at both ends

MortHigh School head football coach RoydRichards (middle) talks his team during summer practice. | Steve T. Gorches~Post-Tribune

Morton High School head football coach Roydon Richards (middle) talks to his team during a summer practice. | Steve T. Gorches~Post-Tribune

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Updated: September 6, 2013 6:19AM



Burning the candle at both ends has become more common in all businesses, thanks to a not-so-strong economy in recent years. It happens in high school sports, too.

At least that’s the best way I would describe any high school athletic director who also coaches a sport.

Crazy is another word to describe them.

Marvin Rea might be the most successful of any region AD/coach as the boys basketball coach at Bowman Academy. The Eagles have two state titles and a runner-up.

Rhonda Walker has been the AD and track coach at Hebron.

Doug Greenlee coaches baseball at Kankakee Valley as the athletic director.

David Amor (LaCrosse) and Paul Laub (Whiting) find a way to be the softball coach and AD at their respective schools.

The craziest, though, have to be the football coaches. Dan Klimczak decided to end a very short hiatus from coaching last year after leaving Wheeler’s football program to become the athletic director at South Central. Less than a week before the first game of the season, he took over as football coach.

But Klimczak is the AD of a Class 1A school that doesn’t have as many athletes — or sports for that matter — as 3A or 4A schools (and 5A and 6A when you’re talking football).

So that makes Roydon Richards the craziest of the crazies.

What does being Morton’s athletic director and football coach mean for Richards? It means his office is quite the potpourri of items you wouldn’t normally see in the average AD or football coach’s office.

You got some disinfectant — “There’s a lot of football players coming through here, so you need this,” Richards said.

You got some charcoal — “Who has charcoal in their office?” Richards sarcastically asked.

Actually, he had a good explanation for the charcoal. It was used for a beach party he had for the football team earlier in the summer.

And you have a plaque from American Legion Post 232 commemorating Richards for one of the most special football events he organized: “In appreciation for sponsoring 2011 Veteran’s Night.”

What it all means is that Richards has a year-round job, and then some, with thankless hours and thankless deeds that are only recognized occasionally, like that 2011 game.

“Every year I think this may be it, but I end up doing it again,” he said about returning as athletic director.

His best time of the year is done and the craziness begins this week.

“The summer is the best time because there’s no pressure, we don’t keep score, everybody gets to play and we do fun stuff,” Richards said.

Actually, he has been busy with AD stuff, and he will be for a couple more weeks because once the football games start, his focus turns almost exclusively to the gridiron.

“I finish all my winter stuff before football,” he explained. “Once football starts, it’s almost impossible to get a basketball game moved or set up a wrestling meet. If you’re not on top of it early, there’s no time.”

He also lamented about the days when the summer used to really be for time off.

“Summer football isn’t like it used to be,” he added.

What it means is that Monday, Aug. 5, is not the first practice for most teams. In fact, it’s more like the 20th or 30th or more if teams want to be good.

It means a squad like Morton’s can work most of the summer formulating an offensive game plan — not to give anything away, but it won’t be like it has been in recent years as the Governors have won four straight sectional titles and rattled off eight straight seasons with a .500 record or better.

It also means Richards has been working almost all of the summer, too, with longer hours than the average coach or athletic director, and way too underpaid.

But you can bet he’ll still be having fun and probably do it again next year.



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