Seven MIddle Border Conference championships in 14 seasons is quite a coaching legacy for New Richmond boys’ basketball coach Rick Montreal. Montreal has decided to step down from his coaching position with the completion of the 2019-20 season.
Montreal finished his coaching tenure in New Richmond with a 193-132 record.
Under Montreal, the Tigers put together one of the largest stretches of consecutive championships in MBC basketball history. The Tigers won five straight MBC titles, from the 2007-08 to the 2011-12 seasons. He directed the Tigers to championship again in the past two seasons.
Montreal recalled the day his family moved to New Richmond after he’d accepted the coaching and teaching position. He said people were waiting to help his family move into their home.
“It was pretty awesome. From that point on, I felt supported,” he said.
In his first season, 2006-07, the Tigers went 12-2 in the MBC, but finished one win behind Baldwin-Woodville. Then came the string of the five consecutive titles.
The trademark of Montreal’s teams was defense, with the Tigers frequently leading the conference in the fewest points allowed. Even in the 2019-20 season, when the Tigers changed their offensive philosophy to a more uptempo style, they still allowed the fewest points of any team in the conference.
“I came in trying to preach rebounding, defense and toughness,” Montreal said.
One of the biggest changes Montreal has seen in his 14 seasons of coaching is how each sport is now considered a year-round sport.
“Their summers are so crazy with the demands being put on them,” Montreal said of the current high school athletes. “When you’re all in and there’s no turning back, it’s stressful. It’s a huge investment.”
Through his 14 seasons, two constants have been assistant coaches Craig Kittel and Brian Anderson.
“They are two of the most loyal people in my life. They were there every step of the way,” Montreal said.
Montreal said he was pretty fiery when he began his time as the Tiger coach. That approach has changed through the 14 seasons.
“The biggest change has been adjusting to the student-athlete. Our society has changed a lot in 14 years. I tried to change with the trends,” he said.
Through the youth programs and by serving as a middle school teacher, he’s known most of his current players for nearly their entire lives. With each passing season, coaching became more about building relationships for Montreal.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is seeing kids develop into men. I’ve seen kids grow up, to figure things out. We try to teach them about life, how to navigate through the world,” Montreal said. “One of the true joys has been getting invited to guys’ weddings or getting texts from them after a game. Those are the priceless jewels.”
Montreal said his success as a coach was largely due to his family.
“They gave up many things and made numerous sacrifices for me to coach. They also never once complained I was missing things, and always realized what I needed to do to be a head basketball coach, especially the time involved with doing that successfully,” he said.
Montreal said it was the right time to make this decision. He said he will also miss the connections with the local coaches and the coaches he competed against around the area.
“There’ll be a lot I miss, mostly on the player side. I feel grateful, but it’s the right time to move on,” he said. “There’s regrets, but the other side is far richer.”