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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man was sentenced to more than a year in jail for a late-night robbery in Courtenay last April. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Late-night Courtenay robbery results in 500-plus days in jail

Heatley’s sentence also includes probation, DNA order, firearms ban

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

The CSRHD board has diverging views on its relationship with Island Health. File photo
Comox-Strathcona board ponders relationship with Island Health

“We have to stand together … to get our share of the health budget.”

The CVCDA Accessibility Project is creating safer ramps at the Courtenay facility. Photo supplied
Accessibility project underway at Comox Valley Child Development Association

Over the past month, you may have noticed some construction underway behind… Continue reading

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards South Island film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Most Read