From his days as a coach through his role as administrator, Central Valley activities coordinator Jay Rydell never lost sight of one fact.
“The kids are the ones who make the wheels turn in the building,” he said. “I’m going to miss them.”
Rydell will retire at the end of the school year, completing 29 years in education, the last 26 at CV.
It’s a year sooner than he had planned, but a fund-raising business opportunity arose that he couldn’t pass up.
Rydell coached wrestling and assisted in other sports for more than a decade before becoming A.D.
“The job kind of popped up,” said Rydell. “Having coached so long fighting to get what I wanted, it was an opportunity to help coaches out.”
Typical of Rydell, on Thursday he could be found out on Sig T. Hansen Field, setting up for the District 8 track and field championship meet.
Rydell was always willing to do the labor necessary in putting on sports events. It was an ethic evolved from his Montana ranch upbringing.
“He’s a hard worker,” said baseball coach Ed Garcia. “I don’t think we’ll ever get a guy who’ll work it like that.”
Added girls track coach Dennis McGuire, with a laugh. “I’m tired of packing the saddle for him. Actually, I’m afraid it’s the other way around. It will be a lot different around here.”
A three-sport athlete in high school at Great Falls, and at Dana College in Nebraska, Rydell spent six summers breaking and shoeing horses in Wyoming. He also participated in rodeo.
“I started working with horses on a close friend’s wheat ranch,” he said. “With ranching went rodeoing.”
A bull and bareback rider - “No one said I had any brains” - Rydell eventually changed lines of work.
“When the winnings were not enough to pay the hospital bills,” he said, “I figured maybe I’d try teaching.”
Rydell was hired to be CV’s wrestling coach in 1971 before there were junior high and youth programs. Three years later he won the school’s first league championship.
One of his wrestlers, Dave Smith, now a successful coach at Mountain View Junior High, said last December that the athletes put Rydell on a pedestal.
He also assisted football and track, one year coming back from the state wrestling tournament to find he was interim head track coach because of a resignation.
“(Principal) Bill Ames called me and said, ‘How’s the head track coach?”’ Rydell recalled. “I said I hadn’t talked to him. Bill said, ‘No, you’re the new coach.”’
He became athletic director 16 years ago. The advantage he said, was being able to get to know all the athletes rather than just those he coached.
But the job description and responsibility has changed and become administratively more onerous.
“Now it’s a vice principal’s job, and trying to do it all, sometimes you get frustrated,” Rydell said. “I want to be at everything and can’t. I feel like I’m not doing the job.”
Rydell will miss his association with fellow Greater Spokane League activities coordinators, but not the hassle of trying to find funding sources for athletics.
“Twenty-nine years is enough,” said Rydell. “Sometimes 25 years was enough.”
And he’ll always hold a soft spot in his heart for the students who made his job so satisfying.
“When you get in the office and are tied up with all the (hassle), you finally put everything down and spend 20 minutes in the hallway (with the kids),” he said. “Your problems are all gone.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo