PENDLETON — Just a few weeks after Lapel mourned the loss of a former coach and teacher, Pendleton Heights lost one of its own in John Rhoades, 77, who taught and coached at Pendleton Heights for 30 years.
Rhoades passed away March 17 and is remembered as a man who loved those he worked with.
He taught at Pendleton Heights from 1974 to 2004 but never truly left the school, as he was a constant at athletic events.
“He was a fan of all our athletes,” Pendleton Heights Athletic Director Chad Smith said. “He cared deeply about the kids and was ready to offer advice.”
Maybe the advice to a 17-year-old would later click at age 30.
Smith was one of Rhoades’ students in math class when he attended Pendleton Heights.
“He was an educator first,” Smith said.
He said there are scores of memorable stories about Rhoades, many of them quite humorous.
His coaching ran the gamut from boys and girls basketball, both JV and middle school, to high school track.
Rhoades is credited with saving the high school girls track program from being canceled in 1976. After the first season, Rhoades’ teams went on to win 160 straight dual meets through a period of 15 years.
Rhoades also is responsible for starting the girls cross country team, and he led the team to state final competition twice during his 25-year tenure as coach.
Even after retirement, Rhoades continued to be part of Arabian athletics, doing anything from driving the bus to events, to working track and cross country meets, to helping in the press box during football games.
“It’s just hard to find someone now who cares so much,” Smith said.