SUNY Orange dedicates "Paul Rickard" Court in MiddletownDecember 3, 2018
Paul Rickard's wife Maureen unveiling a logo on the floor that read “Paul Rickard Court” during halftime of Orange’s game against Kingsborough Community College.
MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. –Basketball players from Paul Rickard’s first team in 1981 to his last team in 2006 filled SUNY Orange’s gym Saturday afternoon.
Some Orange alumni, like Pat Schultz, traveled from as far as Washington, D.C., to witness the basketball court dedication honoring their late coach. Bob Turner, Rickard’s first assistant at Orange, was also in attendance.
The basketball court, which became a second home to Rickard’s family during his 25 seasons as men’s basketball coach, will forever hold his name.
Wife Maureen (right) unveiled a logo on the floor that read “Paul Rickard Court” during halftime of Orange’s game against Kingsborough Community College.
“He had multiple chances to coach at other places, some four-year schools as an assistant coach and head coach,” said Tom Rickard, one of five sons. “He had seven kids. He was a math department professor. He loved teaching here.
“He was the kind of guy where this might as well have been Madison Square Garden to him. That’s how he felt. He felt this was it.”
Rickard lost his fight with bladder cancer in March 2017. The family organized a golf outing in his name in June and raised $70,000 for scholarships to Orange County students. During the golf outing, Orange athletic director Wayne Smith approached the family with the idea of the court dedication.
“He was not just (a mentor) to the student-athletes but to the other faculty and coaches. He was a mentor to everybody,” Smith said. “He did it the right way. He stood for sportsmanship and playing hard. It’s a very fitting tribute to a fitting guy.”
Rickard’s five sons — Tom, Paul, Walter, Dan and Tim — were among the more than 300 players that he coached at Orange. Rickard won 325 games, but he always felt his first responsibility was teaching life lessons through the game.
“When I was at Burke (Catholic), I didn’t take many things seriously other than basketball,” said Schultz, who played for Rickard from 2000-02. “Coach Rickard was the first person in my life that really shifted my view of the world and started getting me to think of other things outside of basketball.
“My GPA (grade-point average) skyrocketed when I was here. I look at him as truly the one person in my life that just changed everything. There’s no way I am where I am currently without Mr. Rickard.”
Schultz, who went on the play for Division I Binghamton, works for an investment company and is married with two children.
The When Auggy Sanchez was considering ending his basketball career after two seasons at Orange (1999-2001), Rickard convinced him to play at Division III Cortland.
“I wouldn’t have got into Cortland had I not played,” Sanchez said. “He told me to use basketball as a tool to get you to where you want to go. That’s great advice.”
Sanchez is in his 13th year as a physical education teacher in the Newburgh school district.
Rickard identified with student-athletes at Orange. He worked to put himself through
college at St. John’s and would get up at 5 a.m. for crew team practice. Rickard made
Orange a home for kids who deserved a second chance or who were working two jobs to
get themselves through college.
“He always tried to get the best out of you even though you might have not seen it in yourself,” said Matt Dillon, who played for Rickard in 1985 and 1986. “Coming here, he respected us as men and where we were coming from and never took that away from us.
“I’m glad his legacy will live on so people can inquire who is Paul Rickard,” Dillon said.