MIDDLETOWN – The SUNY Orange Athletic Department will dedicate “Paul Rickard Court” during a men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader on Saturday, Dec. 1, as the College pays tribute to the late longtime math professor who is also enshrined in the Colt Athletic Hall of Fame following decades of success as head coach of the men’s basketball and golf teams.
Dedication ceremonies will take place at halftime of the men’s basketball game on Dec. 1 when the Colts host Kingsborough Community College at Schmid Gymnasium. The ceremony is part of a basketball doubleheader in which the women’s basketball team hosts Kingsborough at Noon and the men follow at 2 p.m. Many members of Rickard’s extended family are expected to attend the dedication ceremony.
The College’s Board of Trustees paved the way for the dedication in September by unanimously approving a resolution to name the court in honor of Rickard, who passed away on March 30, 2017.
“Coach Rickard believed greatly in the community college mission and was a tremendous ambassador for SUNY Orange and our athletic department. He thought so highly of SUNY Orange that all seven of his children attended and graduated,” said Wayne Smith, SUNY Orange athletic director. “Coach believed in hard work, toughness and execution. He was a great sportsman, always setting the example for his players and assistant coaches. The respect he showed to game officials and opposing coaches and players is the main reason that he was so universally respected. Additionally, he had the ability to see and develop the potential in so many student-athletes both on and off the court.
“On a personal level, I was blessed to call Paul Rickard a mentor and friend,” Smith added.
“He took time to help me when I was a young coach, and was always available to talk or answer questions. When I first started at Orange, he would often stop by to talk or come watch our baseball games. As the years went by, I came to look forward to our informal chats that covered any topic from sports to parenting to local happenings. I, like many others, knew Coach as more than just a colleague and greatly appreciate all that he did for the College and our athletic program.”
Rickard first became affiliated with SUNY Orange when he joined the math department faculty ranks in 1980. Soon thereafter he stepped forward to coach the basketball and golf squads. In all, he spent 32 years (1982 to 2014) with the golf team and 25 seasons (1981-82 through 2005-06) along the basketball sideline. His hardwood teams won 323 games and made 19 playoff appearances while winning a handful of regional and conference championships.
In 2006, Rickard led the Colts to a 23-8 record, a district championship and the program’s first ever appearance in the NJCAA Division II National Championship Tournament. That year, he was named the NJCAA Division II “Coach of the Year” in District 9. He was tabbed Region XV “Coach of the Year” during his final season in 2005-06.
His teams won the Region XV Sportsmanship Award six times. Many of his players were named to all-conference and all-region teams, while he mentored three players who earned All-America status: Garfield Sybliss, Gordon James and Ben Bowman.
While coaching golf, Rickard guided the Colts to one Region XV championship and four Mid-Hudson Conference titles. During that time, 31 of his players earned all-region honors and advanced to the national tournament, with two placing among the Top 18 at the national event.
Many of Rickard’s basketball players have gone on to play and coach at the collegiate level, including his sons Tom and Dan. He also served as a mentor and inspiration to many of the region’s high school coaches.
Overall, Rickard spent 38 seasons on a basketball sideline at the college and high school levels. In addition to coaching at SUNY Orange, Rickard guided the high school programs at St. Mary’s and Pine Bush high schools. He was named New York State High School “Coach of the Year” in 1979 while at St. Mary’s. In his 38 years, he amassed 460 career victories.
In 2015, Rickard was a unanimous selection to the Colt Athletic Hall of Fame.
In addition to the court naming, the Rickard family held a golf tournament this past summer to raise funds for scholarships in the coach’s memory. The golf outing is expected to be an annual event so that funds raised can be added to the scholarship accounts in order to further extend Rickard’s tremendous legacy at SUNY Orange.
For more information on the Dec. 1 dedication, contact Smith at (845) 341-4261. To contribute to the Rickard Scholarship Fund, contact the SUNY Orange Foundation at (845) 341-4337 or visit https://paulrickardmemorialscholarship.com/.