When it comes to coaching, Michael Ricci has been on the block for many years. Coach Ricci was hired as Garnet Valley's head football coach in 1986. From the time he was a kid, he knew coaching was his calling and after 38 years of being on the sidelines, Coach Ricci is putting down his headset.
"I look back and realize how lucky I have been to have had such great kids and families and great assistant coaches during my time here. I wouldn't trade any of it for anything," Coach Ricci said. "It's bittersweet to know that it's coming to an end, but I walk away very proud of the program that we've created here. I'm very proud of the kids who come out of the program too."
Coach Ricci is a familiar face in the Garnet Valley community. Before he heads out to the field each day, Coach Ricci is in his classroom teaching English. Coach Ricci believes his program is unique and successful because the focus isn't just on football.
"I always say football is the least important thing that we do. We spend a lot of time all year working on things that really have nothing to do with football," Coach Ricci added. "I feel like those kinds of things have been able to translate into success on the field."
Hoping to finish his coaching journey with another district championship title, the Jaguars ended their regular season with a perfect 10-0 record, winning their fourth consecutive and eighth Central League title overall. Since the Jaguars moved to the Central League in 2008, they have won 113 games out of the 125 they've played. Coach Ricci is being honored as the Eagles High School Coach of the Week, presented by Hyundai.
"I'm going to miss a lot of the daily interaction, a lot of sharing in the unified effort that we've made to be successful. It's time to move on and pass it to somebody else," Coach Ricci expressed. "I'm looking forward to watching and helping whoever that is as they move forward."
During his time with the Jaguars, Coach Ricci has created memories that he will cherish forever. While most people will reminisce on Coach Ricci's time and focus on how successful his teams have been with their winning records, he will always look back at the moments that happened off the field. This past weekend is just one thing Coach Ricci will look back on and laugh at.
"I turned around and all the varsity players were dressed in Halloween costumes. It was so much fun. These are big, strong, tough football players and they had spectacular costumes on. They were just having a good time, and to me, that's the truest measure," chuckled Coach Ricci when he saw one player dressed up like him. "I told our assistant coaches, if these kids can come in here have fun and love coming to work and love being part of it, then we're doing something right. The kids make this job much more meaningful and more exciting."
After turning in his playbook, Coach Ricci is looking forward to spending his time going to his kids' sporting events. With all four of his children playing different sports, Coach Ricci will have no issues filling his time by traveling to watch his favorite athletes.