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

John and Jeri Wyatt hope the upcoming North Cowichan public hearing will move things along toward exclusion of the Chemainus River Campground from the Agricultural Land Reserve. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Opportunity for input on campground ALR exclusion at public hearing

Matter back on the agenda after a late reprieve in 2019 for Chemainus River Campground owners

Rainforest Arts in downtown Chemainus is closing temporarily. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Rising COVID cases cited in temporary Rainforest Arts closure

Contact can still be made through email and social media

The Red Zed 1 aroused a great deal of curiosity when it was stationed off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Alaskan fast ferries the eventual load for heavy hauler

The Red Zed 1 stayed anchored in Chemainus for the better part of a month and a half

A police car at the scene of a child’s death Friday, April 9, at the Falcon Nest Motel in Duncan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
RCMP investigating child’s death at Duncan’s Falcon Nest Motel

First responders attended to a call about an unresponsive child at the… Continue reading

North Cowichan is looking for public input through a survey as it updates its Master Transportation Plan. (File photo)
North Cowichan looking for public input on transportation

Online survey to be held until April 22

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

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

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Most Read