Retirement has come early for B.C. teachers leaving the job at the end of the school year, but it was due to happen. It was just going be in another two weeks.
Instead, the entrance to Rick Griffin’s house is packed with boxes and memorabilia he has yet to make room for in the house storage.
“It was rather quick, packing up with the strike looming,” he said this week.
After 33 years as a teacher, 27 of which were at Saanich schools – 16 of them at Arbutus middle school and the last 11 at Mount Douglas secondary, Griffin is moving on to the next phase of his life.
“It’s a weird ending with the strike, but not one I’ve put any energy into,” Griffin said. “I can’t worry about it.”
The man affectionately known as “Griff” coached girls basketball most of his career, including to two provincial junior championships at Mount Doug.
They’ll go down as his career highlights, 1996 in particular, when his daughter Rae sunk a buzzer-beater to win the B.C. title.
“I was a dad at that moment, not a coach. To have your daughter win it at the buzzer, you can’t beat it.”
He was well-liked by his players and his students, as he taught English, leadership, counselled and was a vice-principal for a year.
“They identified with him and appreciated his honest approach, in teaching and in basketball,” said fellow Mount Doug teacher Bernie Kidd. “It was his philosophy to give back and to invest in students, and it showed.”
“I’ve been lucky with the kids I’ve coached, and the parents,” Griffin said. “In coaching I always used the mantra, ‘It’s more than just basketball, it’s a vehicle to make relationships. It’s a journey.’ And it was true.”
It all came full circle at the Mount Doug alumni game held in May. Nearly 70 former players returned, some from up-Island from when he taught in the Comox Valley, and one all the way from Georgia.
“It was my idea of a retirement party. It was about everyone, not me, and we raised $1,700 in donations for KidSport,” Griffin said.
As for the future ahead, Griffin will keep busy with a few different projects.
He hopes to volunteer with Encounters for Canada, the program that brings youth from across Canada to Ottawa for a week at a time. It will give him a chance to visit with his daughter and new grandson, Jasper.
He’s also looking to mentor student teachers and will help out with his son’s business, Quails’ Nest Daycare, which is run out of the Griffin home.
And a busy home it is.
They’ve hosted international exchange students for 20 years. In fact, the upstairs was overrun this week by a group of Mexican students who gathered to watch their country play Brazil to a 0-0 draw in the World Cup on Tuesday.
Griffin’s wife Shari is also in education, as a teacher at Braefoot elementary school, and their daughter Rae is also a teacher.
Rams left in good hands
The Rams’ are in good hands with former UVic Vike and Camosun Charger Carmen Lapthorne assuming the head coaching role of the senior girls team after three years as an assistant. Likewise, Chris Ball will take over the senior boys team after Ted Anderson, the Rams’ longtime boys coach, is also retiring.
“Anderson is a character and he will be missed,” Kidd said.
“School, sports, and basketball were all very good to me and had a huge impact on my life so it was just natural for me to give a little back,” Anderson said. “My style was not very 21st century. One of my closest friends may have described it as ‘somewhat crude but effective.’ I tried to do what I thought was best for people, myself and community.”