Rich Bechard always wanted to be an athletic administrator in a big school district.
“I grew up in the small western Kansas town of Grinnell,” he said. “Athletic administration has been a lifelong career of mine, and I have always had a goal over the years to work in a large district with multiple schools that would enable me to have the opportunity to impact more students.”
He has taught and coached in Stockton and Norton, both in Kansas. His first administrative job was as athletic director at Holton, also in Kansas. Eight years ago he came to Blue Valley as the district's athletic director.
And now, this 2013-2014 school year will be his last in Blue Valley and in the state of Kansas.
He is retiring in Kansas and moving to Lee’s Summit in Missouri where he will replace Darwin Rold as the district’s athletic director of the three high schools.
Bechard leaves a notable impression in the Blue Valley School District.
Superintendent Dr. Tom Trigg said, “Rich has done an outstanding job overseeing the district athletic and activity programs. His emphasis on character and character development has impacted our programs in a positive way. He has left a lasting impression on our programs.”
Blue Valley High athletic director Matt Ortman is in just his second year overseeing the Tigers’ athletic program.
“I have really enjoyed working with Rich,” Ortman said. “He is a great person to bounce ideas off of and to get advice from. He has helped me out tremendously in my two years as AD at Blue Valley.”
Long time Blue Valley West athletic director Cindy Roach said, “Rich has the perfect personality for leadership roles in athletics and activities. He is patient, positive and supportive. Rich is able to see the big picture and to program solve when needed.”
Blue Valley Northwest athletic director Steve Harms noted, “Rich has been so instrumental in moving our athletic and activity programs ahead. He has tremendous relationships with all he works with, along with great respect in Kansas, as well as nationally.”
Bechard has had many special moments during his eight years in the Blue Valley. District.
“The biggest highlight has been the opportunity to build relationships with many great coaches, teachers, administrators and other people I have worked with,” he said. “Having two Blue Valley schools playing each other in the state championship game four different times in eight years were very special moments.
“Just being able to watch students compete in the various activities is always a highlight of my position. Clearly another highlight is the 63 team championships I have witnessed in our athletic and activity programs.”
Bechard has been active on the state and national level in his 24 years as an athletic administrator.
“My involvement with the Kansas Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (KIAAA) has been a real highlight for me,” he said. “My involvement with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) has also been a highlight.
“Serving on the board of directors as well as president of the NIAAA is a highlight of my administrative career.”
Bechard played four sports during high school in Grinnell and played two years of basketball at Barton County Community College.
He has four brothers and two sisters. Three brothers also went into sports.
Don was a volleyball and basketball coach at several schools, including Gardner Edgerton. During his career he won state titles in volleyball and boys basketball, but lost his battle with cancer five years ago.
Brother Ray is now the head volleyball coach at the University of Kansas, and another brother Harold has been a sportswriter in Kansas for 38 years, most of his time with the Salina Journal.
Now Rich will head to Lee’s Summit in the next school year as athletic director of the school district.