Tim and Kim Richards originally came to the Wood River Valley with their four daughters in Aug. 2000 with designs to operate the “Come on Inn” cabins in Bellevue while he was waiting for a teaching job to open up in the valley.
The cabin idea didn’t work out. The teaching did.
Eighteen years have passed and the four Richards daughters have all graduated from Wood River High School and also graduated from college and gone on to promising careers. Meanwhile, their father has carved out a record-setting coaching career.
Tim Richards, 60, of Hailey who coached the Wood River High School varsity volleyball team for 16 seasons while teaching Social Studies at the Hailey high school, has announced he is stepping aside from his coaching duties.
Wood River High athletic and activities director Kevin Stilling on Dec. 5 announced the resignation of Richards as the school’s head volleyball coach. Stilling is searching for Richards’ successor.
It won’t be easy.
Stilling said, “Tim has impacted the lives of many young ladies here over the years and has really been the face of Wood River volleyball for a long time. Tim has been great to work with and it will be a challenge to find a replacement of his caliber.”
Richards, serving from 2002-18, has become the winningest coach in school history.
His first year of coaching was the first year Idaho prep volleyball used “rally scoring.” His final year of coaching took place as Wood River entered its toughest conference, the new 10-team Great Basin.
Richards, who guided Wood River to its last of 21 district tournament championships in 2007, ended his Wood River volleyball stint with a 305-259 record (.541 winning percentage). He took the Wolverines to its last of 23 state tournament visits in 2012.
His Wolverine teams won 20-or-more games in seven straight seasons from 2002-2008. His teams won three district championships and went to the state tournament five times—two times in the 3A class and three times at 4A.
In his second season, 2003, Richards’ Wolverines (31-14) placed second at the State 3A tournament in Lake City behind All-Staters Charli Lindley and Liz Rippon, and all-around Jessie King. Junior Rachael Richards and sophomore Hannah Richards played on a remarkable team.Coaching his four daughters at Wood River was “the most rewarding thing” about his career, Richards said Sunday, adding that it was also “the hardest thing.”
His wife Kim added, “The girls grew up watching him coach and they wanted to be coached by him. Tim has a reputation for being a tough coach, with high expectations.
“But our girls understood they had to earn their spots on the floor and it didn’t matter what their name was.”
Richards was only the fourth volleyball coach in Wood River history when he took the job in 2002, after coaching middle school basketball in Hailey in 2000 and being assistant coach to Reamy Goodwin in 2001.
Goodwin, in his 12 seasons at the varsity helm, had a 277-175 record with seven district tournament titles. He replaced Dave Neumann, whose 243-97 record in 13 seasons from 1977-89 including state championships in 1977 and 1978, and 10 state tourney trips in 12 years.
Richards, from Santa Monica, Ca., was an athlete at University High School in West Los Angeles. He graduated from University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) where he started his coaching career in volleyball and basketball.
Getting Masters degrees in Education and Public Administration from UAB, Richards helped produce radio and television networks and Spanish outreach for the NFL Oakland Raiders from 1985-89.
From 1990-99, he was a high school teacher and coach at four different Alabama high schools. He was an assistant coach when Ramsay High won a state volleyball title there.
Coaching has been very satisfying, Richards said.
He said, “You go to battle with your kids, set a goal and try to reach it. Associations with my players have meant so much to me. You make a difference in their lives. You see their growth, progression and watch the girls become very successful people.
“So many good things come out of athletics. You learn how to be a leader and set an example. Idaho has been awesome for us. The people here are so good. The camaraderie among the coaches is something. Everybody is trying to do the best they can for the kids. You learn to set your egos aside.”
All of the Richards daughters played college volleyball in addition to being stars for Wolverine volleyball here.
Whitney Isley, 32, mother of children ages 8, 6 and 5, is the eldest of the daughters. She played college volleyball at Birmingham Southern and lives with her husband and family in Birmingham, Ala.
Rachael Richards, 31, played volleyball and ran track at Principia College in Illinois and is a successful lawyer and prosecutor in Colorado Springs, Co.
Hannah Richards, 30, is married and lives in Chicago, where she works for a consulting company after graduating from Principia College.
Lily Richards, 24, lives in Fort Collins, Co. and is taking post-graduate courses at Colorado State University. She played volleyball and tennis at Principia.
Athletic director Stilling will always be grateful what Richards did for the Wood River volleyball program in 2016—a year after Richards first stepped aside as head coach in favor of Jane Turner.
Stilling said, “Tim stepped in after taking some time off three years ago when our coach at the time suddenly left because of work demands during the season.”
It was a no-brainer for Richards. The coach said he has enjoyed “working with kids and seeing what they need.”