Rich Goulet passed away on Sunday. (The News files)

Rich Goulet passed away on Sunday. (The News files)

Pitt Meadows coaching legend Rich Goulet dies

Basketball community mourns passing of longtime high school hoops coach

Renowned Pitt Meadows secondary basketball coach Rich Goulet passed away on Sunday night, at the age of 74.

Tributes to the longtime high school hoops bench boss have been posted in social media non-stop. They show he was respected as much for being a mentor and builder in the sport as he was a competitor.

Goulet was a high school boys basketball coach for more than 50 years, including 39 at Pitt Meadows. Along the way he earned a spot in the Basketball B.C. Hall of Fame and won the Prime Minister’s Volunteer award. He also won five provincial championships, including three at Pitt Meadows.

READ ALSO: Rich Goulet receives award from the Prime Minister

READ ALSO: Pitt Meadows coach Rich Goulet inducted into Basketball B.C. hall of fame

Ken Dockendorf, his longtime friend and rival from the Maple Ridge Ramblers, said Goulet’s commitment was unmatched. Dockendorf also lived in Pitt Meadows. When he walked his dog at 10:30 p.m., he could go past the high school and always find Goulet’s office lights were still on.

“He was the most dedicated coach in the history of this province,” stated Dockendorf.

Dockendorf is the president of the BC High School Boys Basketball Association, which tweeted about Goulet’s passing late on Sunday, calling him “an amazing mentor to all his players and to young coaches all around B.C.”

Goulet came to Pitt Meadows in 1979 when it was an unremarkable farm school in need of some school spirit. Just four years later he had built a program and won a provincial Double A basketball championship.

Both men ran elite programs, and Dockendorf remembers the best years were 1985 to 1991. When the Marauders played the Ramblers, it was tough to find a seat in the gym. They met in the provincial championships in 1989, and Goulet’s team won by a single point.

“It was basically the high school basketball capital of the province,” remembers Dockendorf.

Ron Wallsmith also started at the school in 1979, coming over from Westview, where he had coached the Wildcats. He was the vice principal, and also Goulet’s assistant coach. They would spend most of 40 years in gyms together.

“I thought I knew some basketball before I met him. He taught me a lot,” he said. “Rich’s passion was unbelievable.”

Pitt Meadows’ former players describe Goulet as a classic basketball coach, who ran his teams with old-school intensity. He had a love-hate relationship with some of his players. Those throwback coaches are unapologetic.

“We were all hollerers, and we tried to make the kids as good as we could make them,” said Dockendorf.

These coaches were “stern” and “demanding,” he said, and they made sure their kids made good grades, and were good citizens, said Dockendorf.

Wallsmith said the players loved Goulet. His longtime assistant went to visit him in hospital in Abbotsford, and two players from the last B.C. championship team showed up while he was there. Then a third Marauders alumnus appeared. They went outside the hospital to visit, sitting in the sunshine and telling stories.

“The admiration the kids had for him was unbelievable,” said Wallsmith.

Goulet is the godfather of Wallsmith’s son Kevin, who has gone on to become a junior boys basketball coach at Holy Cross.

Goulet never married or had children, but he had a basketball family.

Bruce Duthie started young in Goulet’s Little Dribblers program in 1983, and was coached by him until a dream season in 1992, when they made it to the provincial championships. They were beaten by a Victoria team led by Steve Nash in the final.

“He pushed us hard because he believed in us, and he taught us to believe in ourselves,” said Duthie. “But to believe in yourself, you have to do the work.”

Duthie is an executive with a national bank. He said the life lessons he learned from Goulet were more important than what he got from university.

“He is going to be dearly missed. He really did make a difference in many lives, for the better.”

Scott Walton was the big centre on that 1992 team, and followed in his mentor’s footsteps to become a high school basketball coach. He said Goulet’s teams were always competitive because he got the most out of his players. Some seasons the program was blessed with some real athletic talent, and would contend for a provincial championship. But every season, Pitt Meadows was going to be a tough team.

“I’ve been coaching 20 years, and I know how hard it is to have that success,” said Walton. “His standards were extremely high, and there was no compromise.”

He said Goulet held his players accountable in a way that is missing in modern high school sports.

As he raises his daughters, he found “A lot of that stuff translated to parenting.”

The outpouring of respect for the man when he was asked to stop coaching at Pitt Meadows in 2017 was unprecedented. Even two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, whom Goulet had coached with Team B.C., tweeted “Lucky I got to play for Coach Goulet!” Former LA Laker Robert Sacre and Miami Heat Kelly Olynyk tweeted out similar sentiments.

READ ALSO: Steve Nash tweets about ‘fired’ basketball coach Goulet

Goulet had suffered poor health in recent years, had strokes, was on dialysis, needed a leg amputation, and had circulation problems. He had been in hospital, was released back into his seniors home in Abbotsford, and passed there.

Wallsmith had a virtual visit with Goulet the weekend before his death, as they facetimed, and talked basketball.

“He was in his room watching March Madness, and I was home watching March Madness. It was like old times,” he said.

Wallsmith said the basketball community is honouring him in social media.

“That word ‘legend’ is a corny one, but he really was a legend,” said Dockendorf. “The impact he had on high school basketball was enormous.”


Have a story tip? Email: ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

B.C. High School BasketballMaple RidgePitt Meadows

Just Posted

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

Traffic is backed up along Naramata Road after a semi-truck collided with a power pole on Fleet Road. (Jesse Day - Western News)
UPDATE: Expect long delays on Naramata Road

A semi-truck collided with a power pole and downed several lines

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

Vikki and Don Holmberg with their three children Marshall, Ava and oldest Lexi who now lives on her own. The Penticton family is facing the prospect of homelessness after their rental home was sold, leading them to ask the community for help. (Contributed)
‘There’s just nothing’: housing crunch puts Penticton family on the brink of homelessness

Housing crisis something many in the city can likely relate to, says mother of three

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Kelowna Law Courts. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Former Vernon teacher found guilty of historic sex crimes against minors

Anoop Singh Klair was found guilty of all eight charges against him in a Kelowna courtroom on Friday

The real estate market is hot in Vernon, and across the Okanagan. (John Dent photo)
North Okanagan home prices, demand continue to build

Single family home volumes up 200 per cent, worth average $647,000

An algal bloom on Wood Lake has residents concerned for the body of water's health. (Wendy Innes-Shaw)
‘Wood Lake looks seriously unwell’: Lake Country residents

Algal bloom appears to be getting worse, and stinky

A wildfire southeast of Vernon has been added to the BC Wildfire dashboard Friday, May 14, 2021. (BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire sparks southeast of Vernon

The fire appears to be in a remote area east of Aberdeen Lake

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Enderby’s Small Axe Roadhouse was the subject of nasty backlash after installing two busty beer towers. (Facebook)
Enderby bar’s busty beer taps to stay put despite backlash

‘Many folks have mansplained to us that we are sexist, misogynistic…’

Most Read