By Jordan Burton & Chris Parker
After 183 wins and five Ozark Conference Championships over eight seasons, Kickapoo head basketball coach Dick Rippee is leaving for the same position at Bentonville High School in Arkansas.
“It’s a sad day for me. This program has been special to me. I’m a Kickapoo grad, my wife is a Kickapoo grad, both of my kids graduated from Kickapoo and it’s a tough decision but it’s the best decision for my family,” Rippee said. “My wife has been so supportive throughout it all and this is truly a family decision. She’s a huge basketball and sports fan and that’s not something you always get from the wife of a coach. She’s been fantastic. It’s been awesome to share it with her.”
Moving to Bentonville will allow Rippee to be closer to his daughter Rachel who plays volleyball for the University of Arkansas.
Rippee finishes his career at Kickapoo with a 183-49 record. That included back-to-back Final Four appearances finishing second last year and third this season.
“We had great talent and we can’t take credit for that. Those guys worked their hardest when they’re with us and honestly the majority of those guys are doing stuff on their own,” Rippee said. “We developed a team and that was our emphasis. Sometimes it’s hard to do when you have our kind of individual talent but our guys put Kickapoo first and that allowed us to have great runs.”
He is leaving Kickapoo but the cupboard will be far from bare for the new Kickapoo coach, which will be the fifth in program history. Kickapoo’s junior varsity went 21-3, the freshmen were 19-5 and the eighth grade class went undefeated this past season.
“There’s some great things still coming. They’re going to get someone in really good and I know they’ll do a great job carrying on a tradition that started before me,” Rippee said.
Now Rippee’s focus turns to a tradition-rich Bentonville.
“They were the 2015 MaxPreps Athletic Program of the Year. They have a great thing going on. I’m looking forward to being a part of that. Our tryouts will be in May and there will be about 120 kids, sophomore through senior, trying out and a high school that has 3,200 students,” Rippee said. “It’ll be a new world and we’re going to go in with our ears wide open and listen and learn from Coach Adams (Fayetteville) and other guys in the area. I’m looking forward to getting down there and meeting the kids.”