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A Raider for Life. A conversation with Rick DuBois.

POSTED November 01, 2019
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney


Coach Rick Dubois.

It’s funny, when I listen to this Torrington teacher/coach/motivator/bleed Raider Maroon gentleman speak, I hear so many of the same positives coming from him as I do from myself.

At the Class of 2019 was gathered at the Warner in June, I listened to Dubois declare in no uncertain terms that if folks were tired of hearing him talk up the city and school he loves, he had an answer for them.

“Tough, get used to it.”

He is unapologetically a Raider and Torrington supporter. He sees the greatness in everyone he comes across and they who do are better from meeting this Worcester, Mass native whose family moved to Torrington right after he was born. 

He’s the first coach who when greeting me, would say, “Hey coach,” which at first had me looking behind me to find who he was talking about until I figured out it was his way of saying that I deserved the respect that comes with the title and I was and am honored.

If you tried to count the number of students who have prospered in so many ways from his tutelage, either in sports or in the classroom, we would not have enough room in this entire magazine.

His gentle yet firm style of coaching revolves around catching his athletes doing something right while correcting in a positive and affirming way.

So, what makes him so passionate about this place we call THS?

Let’s hear it right from coach Dubois.    

How long have you been teaching in the Torrington School system and where and what have you taught? 

I have been teaching at Torrington High School for 12 years.  I teach Math and Science so my assignments have changed over the years, but the one constant has always been Physics.

Tell me about your own sports career

At THS I played football and did Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field after a brief stint with both soccer and baseball early on.  I had some great coaches and teammates, and sports were a huge positive in my life.  I was lucky enough to be part of an All-State and All-New England 4 x 400m relay team, and I was voted All-NVL as a Safety.

What is it about Torrington High School that gets you so excited every day?

I love our kids.  We have a lot of friendly, caring students.  I love the energy our kids bring every day, and the diverse population we have brings a broad range of rich experiences into the classroom; you don’t get that in other schools.  I am proud of the fact that any time we take students on a field trip, we ALWAYS get complimented by workers and the general public on how friendly and respectful our kids are.  And every year I am blown away by the leaders we have in our school who are committed to making our community and the world a better place.  Activities like the “Empty Bowls” event and “Raider Rally” are Herculean tasks that take big-picture vision and a lot of hard work to make happen.  Again, other schools don’t do things like this.  Our kids are making a difference in the world; RIGHT NOW.

  

Talk about some of the remarkable students and teachers that you have at THS? 

We have lots of students with big aspirations and the willingness to work toward their lofty goals.  We have students who organize school events and fundraisers that require a level of leadership that at other schools has to be provided by teachers.  This ambitious approach does not happen by accident because many of our teachers challenge our students to “think big” and support them along the way, often during their free time.

What does Torrington High School offer students? 

THS has a little of something for everybody.  We have an amazing arts program between Band, Chorus, Orchestra, and our Theatre Department. That program is second to none.  Couple these offerings with some of our elective courses like Drama, Music Technology, Ceramics, etc. and our kids have every artistic opportunity available to them.  We are one of the few schools in the state with an ROTC program, and we have a school culture that fosters creativity and taking ownership of our school. If there is a club or activity students want to pursue, they are encouraged to recruit faculty members to help them start up new offerings for our school community.  We have new clubs and activities every year thanks to the fact that we give students the flexibility to do these things.  Everything we do at THS, we do well. 

Coaching athletes is one of your best gifts you give your student/athletes. How long have you been coaching and tell me about some of your best teams and athletes? 

I have been a teacher and coach for 24 years, and I have coached for almost 50 seasons between football, basketball, and track and field.  I have coached at several different schools and have been blessed to work with some amazing coaches and athletes.  While I was at Avon Old Farms I worked with several student-athletes who ultimately became professional athletes, and at every school, I have worked with kids who challenged themselves and pushed themselves so relentlessly that I couldn’t help but be inspired by them.  Some of my best athletes were not necessarily the best “athletes”. Anyone who pushes themselves day in and day out is an inspiration, regardless of talent level.

What do you wish for your student/athletes as they go out into the world after graduation?

I want to see our kids go out into the world with the confidence and skills needed to pursue whatever drives them.  We need to create growth, leadership and opportunities for our kids in school so they are ready to make a difference in this world, and we need to help them become “Big Picture” thinkers who see how interconnected everything is and their corresponding ability to make a positive impact on their community. 

Where does your optimism come from? 

My optimism comes from the kids.  I get to work with energetic, caring, talented and funny students every single day.  We have a school environment that fosters healthy risk-taking and boundary-pushing. This is an energizing atmosphere!

What will it take to take and keep THS at the level it needs to be at? 

We need to continue to support extracurricular activities and sports at THS. For so many of our students, this is something that drives them every day and provides the structure and support needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond.  All these activities provide leadership opportunities that so many of our passionate students embrace.  Our administration also does a nice job of providing time in our school schedule for students to pursue these activities because that sends the message that we value extracurricular activities and we build those growth and leadership opportunities into our weekly schedule.  Success doesn’t happen by accident; we need to provide the time and support for our kids to excel and grow.

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