Chippewa volleyball coach reaches career milestone

By: Jon Malavolti | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published September 17, 2012

 Chippewa Valley’s volleyball team celebrates winning at a recent tournament, which marked the 1,000 career win for coach Bill Rice, standing in back.

Chippewa Valley’s volleyball team celebrates winning at a recent tournament, which marked the 1,000 career win for coach Bill Rice, standing in back.

Photo courtesy of Chippewa Valley athletics

Chippewa Valley volleyball coach Bill Rice became the fifth coach in state history to reach the 1,000 career wins mark when the Big Reds won a recent tournament.

Rice reached the special mark when the Big Reds topped Lutheran Westland in the final game of the silver bracket of a tournament Sept. 8 at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

“It’s a milestone for myself, but I’ve got to give credit to the program in general, the stability,” Rice said. “We’ve had great athletes, parents, administrators and tradition. It all has to work together. A lot of time has to be put in. There’s nothing like it. It keeps coaches going.”

Rice, who began coaching at Chippewa Valley in 1980, graduated from the now-closed Roseville Brablec before heading to Wayne State University, where he “picked up volleyball.”

Although he’s retired from teaching, Rice continues to coach, saying it’s in his blood, or at least in his bloodline.

Several members of Rice’s extended family, such as aunts and uncles, have been gym teachers and coaches.

“I’m retired, and I’m still doing it. So something’s got to be there to keep driving us,” he said. “It boils down to being on the court, winning that one game you’re not supposed to win. Chills go through your body. That’s why you do it, that feeling of satisfaction and success you can bring to the kids.

“This is just a way of life,” the coach continued. “I’m still learning from the kids. They bring different perceptions. It’s not about winning and losing; it’s all about developing friendships and relationships.”

Rice said one of the most satisfying things from his coaching career is to see former players become coaches. Several have done so locally, including Macomb Dakota’s Tracie Ferguson, Fraser High’s Melissa Criteser and Rochester High’s Lauren Duquette.

Chippewa Valley Athletic Director Kari Drogosh is another former player of Rice’s who coached before taking up her current administrative position.

“I had the opportunity to play for Coach Rice while I was a student-athlete here and be part of some of those victories,” she said. “It is a great feat to amass 1,000 wins. It is very impressive.

“He is successful because he never stops learning,” Drogosh said. “He is very organized and works hard preparing for each and every game. I am proud to have such a legendary coach at my building.”

And Rice doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

With one of his youngest teams ever taking the floor this season, the coach wants to see things through.

“When you start it all over again, you like to finish,” he said. “Hopefully, next year, we’ll be a lot better, and the year after, we should be real good.

“As a coach, you have to take kids through certain steps,” Rice continued. “One of the steps is to win a tournament. We’re taking little steps. They feel more confident. You hope to develop confidence in them to allow them to reach their potential coming through.”

So even though he’s reached a rare pinnacle among his colleagues, Rice and the Big Reds will continue climbing.

“It’s extremely funny. You look at it when it’s years away, and it finally comes, and it’s basically another win,” he said of reaching 1,000. “You keep working, going for the next one.”