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

This photo shows crews the fire at 7987 Galbraith Cres. that caused extensive damage and displaced six residents early Sunday morning. (Central Saanich Fire/Department Twitter)
Central Saanich rallies around couple who lost home of 25 years

A GoFundMe campaign is currently underway for Carla and Brian Wallace

The government map (as of April 22) showing vaccine availability doesn’t have any Saanich Peninsula pharmacies listed, but the situation is fluid, and many readers have already registered. (Province of B.C. screenshot)
Vaccine availability a fluid situation for Saanich Peninsula

Government site may not show pharmacies, but registering still an option

Volunteers with the Esquimalt Farmers Market will be on hand at Bullen Field to direct attendees and clarify public health protocols. The market runs Thursdays now through Sept. 16, from 4:30-7:30 p.m. (Facebook/Esquimalt Farmers Market)
Esquimalt Farmers Market continues tonight at Bullen Field

Award-winning market features farm-fresh products, food trucks, COVID-19 protocols for safety

A member of the Belmont Secondary School in Langford has tested positive for COVID-19, the Sooke School District announced Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Positive COVID-19 case identified at Belmont Secondary School in Langford

Other school members could’ve been exposed on April 20

While Buccaneer Days public events are cancelled again, such as the annual parade, a home and business decorating contest will allow the spirit of the event to live on. (Facebook)
Esquimalt Buccaneer Days COVID-19 cannon fodder again

Annual celebration cancelled a second time, decorating contest full steam ahead

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

The conservation service confirmed they do not relocate cougars from settled areas but that euthanasia is not necessarily the fate for an animal in the Fanny Bay area. The hope is that the animal will move on to wild areas. (File photo)
Woman hopes cat-stalking Fanny Bay cougar can avoid euthanization

Conservation officers do not relocate the animals from Vancouver Island

Tofino residents expressed frustration over a recent post by Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett that falsely claimed all residents have been vaccinated. (Westerly file photo)
Resort owner apologizes for suggesting Tofino is safe to travel to

Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett apologizes to community and visitors

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Most Read