Popular BHS coach retires post after 23 years

When Brady Bulldog basketball coach Rick Penny and his wife, Jane, moved here three years ago, they didn’t know they would retire in Brady. But, that’s exactly what the coach will do. “The fact that I am stepping down as the varsity boys’ basketball coach is my decision, and mine alone,” he told The Standard Wednesday morning. Penny, 47, had broken the shocking news at the Spring Athletic Banquet Monday night. “No one pressured me into retiring. I just felt it’s time,” he said. Penny, a star high school basketball player who was even better at McMurry College, has been in the coaching business for 23 years. “In August I will continue to teach: physical education at North Ward in the mornings, and the Alternative Education Program (AEP) on the South Ward campus in the afternoons. I’m going to give a bus route a try, too,” he said. Athletic director and head football coach Jay Jones said he hated to see Penny go, “but he feels it’s time to step down. I hope I can end my career like he did, going 21-11 his last basketball season.” Penny was All-Greater Dallas in 1971 as a senior at Richardson High School as a guard/forward, averaging 21 points per game. He was not heavily recruited because he had suffered a broken vertebrae his junior year and was in a brace for six months. His high school coach, Jerry Stone, who later coached a national championship team at Midland College with professional stars like Spud Webb and Mookie Blalock, had attended McMurry and persuaded Penny to try the Abilene Methodist school. “I had always wanted to attend Angelo State, but the coach (Phil George) told me that he had all the guards he needed,” Penny said. So, every time McMurry played ASU, Penny let out all the stops in kind of a “pay back” way. “I’m glad I went to McMurry. It’s a good place,” he said. A four-year letterman at McMurry, Penny graduated in 1976. During his career, he became the school’s all-time leading scorer, an honor that he still holds 25 years later. He scored 2,296 points in four years, averaging 21 ppg. “I’m most proud of my senior year when I averaged 24 ppg, shot 61 percent from the floor and 88 percent from the line,” Penny said. During the summer of 1975, the 6-2 guard tried out with the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA. “They said I could score, but was too slow defensively,” Penny said. In December 1975, he married the former Jane Wilson, who is the niece of former Brady Bulldog head football coach Delbert Wilson. Her folks live in Rising Star. After a year as a graduate assistant at Abilene Christian University, Penny, who majored in PE and minored in speech at McMurry, began his coaching career as head coach at Stamford. After two years, the Pennys moved to the Houston area where he was JV coach at Klein Forest for three years before taking over the reins as head coach of 5A Klein Oak. He was there for seven years’three of them were playoff seasons. “We won three district titles and one bi-district championship during that stint,” Penny said. He was 171-42 at Klein Oak. From 1990-92, he coached at Waco Midway where the first season he had his best record, 28-7, and a bi-district title. Next Penny was at 5A Cypress Fairbanks for five years. “We got caught in a growth split with several new high schools and it drained our talent,” he said. “We wanted out of the big city and came to Brady in August 1997. The move re-charged my outlook on coaching. The kids were better, more respectful and tended to work harder,” Penny said. His three-year record at Brady was 47-51. After his retirement, he said he would miss the relationship with the kids and the excitement of the games. “But I won’t miss the grind of the travel and the constant mental preparation.” “Twenty-three years of serving kids says a lot about a person. That’s many miles on the highway in a ‘yellow dog,'” Jones said. “Whoever is our next boys’ basketball ocach in Brady will be very fortunate to have a resource here left by Rick,” he said. Penny says he plans to play more golf as well as enjoy his weekends and holidays. Members of the Sunset Ridge Church of Christ, Penny said one thing he is proud of is tht five of his former players are coaching. That says tons for the gentle man he is.

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