Most people in their lifetime would fondly recall at least one person who was a significant influence to their character.
Today many people in the basketball community would be mourning the loss of just such a person.
Richard 'Rick' Davies passed away on January 19, 2021. Born in Wales on June 17, 1963, he was 57 years old.
Rick's passing has sent shock waves across the community and in particular those involved in the sport of basketball.
He had dedicated many years to the sport, influencing the skill, character and achievements of many a young player in the Southern Highlands as well as the South Coast and Illawarra.
Rick was a player, a coach, a referee and an inspiration.
His love for the sport ran deep starting after his family moved to Australia when he was 11 years old. He played as a junior in Shellharbour and Kiama in the late 1970s and 80s both in the local competition and at a representative level.
He met the love of his life and future wife, Katrina, through the sport. She played for Illawarra and their paths crossed for the first time at a Benny Lewis Basketball clinic. Katrina was 13 at the time and Rick was 17.
A week later they met up again at a basketball tournament in the Shoalhaven where Katrina sprained her ankle.
As described by one of their sons Mitchell "Dad came to the rescue and looked after mum and took mum back home." The chance meetings, and that touch of chivalry from Rick, ultimately led to the couple marrying on March 8, 1986.
Together they continued to grow in the sport they loved as both players and coaches. They inspired a love for the sport among many other young people including their own two sons Brandon and Mitch.
Rick's coaching career began in 1995 with the Bairnsdale Bullets women's team.
He then set up the development for Moruya basketball before moving to the Southern Highlands in 2006 where he immediately became a part of the Moss Vale Basketball Association as a player, referee and a coach.
Rick was an inspiration in the way he would guide the young players. He embraced the concept of the word team, nurturing the skills of each and every one of his young charges at all levels, with a focus on competitive unison.
He had the ability to command the attention and respect of all on a team without ever raising his voice. But still his cool, calm and collected approach to coaching reaped competition reward time and time again.
Among his coaching successes were sought-after title wins at a local and zone level, NSW Country Championships, Southern Junior League and State Cup clashes.
One of the many young people coached by Rick highlighted the impact of a special man and mentor in a post on Rick's social media page.
Hayden Cook described Rick as "one of the most important and influential people in my life."
"I owe so much to him and to his beautiful family. I am who I am today because of Rick," he said. "Rick taught me so many important lessons both on the court and off it.
"We had a rough beginning to our relationship with me feeling entitled and expecting things to fall in my lap, but Rick stuck with me and taught me that everything must be earned not just on the court but in life, and I will never forget that."
Hayden went on to say "I had a lot of firsts with Rick. My first game as a Chevailer First team representative, my first ever championship win and my first time representing Moss Vale basketball."
"Through Rick I met most of my long time friends. He brought us together in those teams and we were all family. I will never forget the impact Rick had on, not only my life, but on all of us.
"Rest in Peace Rick. I will remember that it was always more than a game. I'll miss you."
It is clear Rick's reputation preceded him as was highlighted by friend and sporting peer Paul Finlayson.
"When I learned that Rick had settled in the Southern Highlands and then began playing and refereeing our competition, I was excited as I knew him to be a great player from representative competitions as an opponent. Rick always seemed to excel against Moss Vale," Finlayson said.
"Having a talent at the Moss Vale Basketball Association such as Rick was always going to be an asset but with Rick came the added bonus of his wife, Katrina with her skills in playing, adjudicating and administration. Together, they made the ultimate basketball duo for any association.
"When playing, whether against or with Rick, he instilled confidence in each individual's game and ability to achieve. I also felt at ease when I saw Rick was the referee for a game I was playing. I knew his knowledge and interpretation of the rules were of the highest level.
"I was privileged to MC many Moss Vale Magic Representative games with Rick at the helm as the coach. Watching him ply his craft, mentoring young talented players, was inspiring. He was always calm but ensured his players understood what they needed to carry out. The response and growth of those players is a credit to Rick with the players not only often excelling at the sport they love but also becoming wonderful young men.
"I had the opportunity to play with Rick at numerous Masters tournaments around Australia as well in the Moss Vale A Grade competition. Rick's knowledge and skills in reading and understanding the game in any situation combined with his ability to bring out the best in us made him a wonderful team mate. I certainly gained great confidence from all that he taught me. He was undoubtedly captain material and a natural leader within the team.
"Rick had a love of many things including the mighty Sydney Roosters but what always stood out to me is that Rick loved his family deeply. Kat was clearly the love of this life and his boys Brandon and Mitchell of whom he was so proud.
"Moss Vale Basketball and the Southern Highlands community is a better place as a result of the contributions that Rick made. He will be greatly missed by all who loved and knew him."
Friend, team mate, opponent and work colleague Kev Campbell struggled to limit his tribute to Rick which he said could have gone on for many pages.
"My relationship with Rick initially started via basketball as rivals on the basketball court in 1981, then as a work colleagues with ANZ, then we both became coaches of junior rep teams and the Moss Vale Magic Youth League Men's Team, but throughout all of that 40 years the common denominator was that we were always great mates," he said.
"I know that Rick was very proud of his professional career with ANZ where he was very well respected by both staff and customers and was also very successful. The fact that he had worked for ANZ and ANZ Mobile Lending for 40 years working his way up from being a teller to a Branch Manager and Lending Manager clearly demonstrates the loyalty and dedication of the man.
"Rick was fantastic with his customers and he always provided them with a very high level of customer service. He was a wonderful staff member and colleague who always made sure that we all worked hard as a team but also that we had fun at the same time."
Campbell said that he always enjoyed talking with Rick about coaching young basketballers.
"We shared a mutual love of seeing these young athletes not only develop their skills and talent to become really good players but more importantly to become good people and citizens in the local community and to be the best person they could be," he said.
"I really admired the way Rick instilled that ethos into his players and I know that he got so much pleasure and satisfaction out of seeing the results of this over many years.
"I also have huge respect for Rick as a player, coach, referee and administrator. He played the game the way it should be, hard but fair, and I always knew I was in for a really tough night on the court when we played his team but after the game no matter how hard it was or what happened on the court he was the first guy to shake your hand with a smile after the game and go for a drink with you. I must say that I much preferred playing with Rick in the same team than against him."
Campbell praised Rick's dedication to his family "making sure they did everything together."
"Most of the time that involved basketball," he said. "You always saw Rick and the love of his life Kat together. You rarely saw one without the other. As parents they ensured that their boys Brandon and Mitch were their priorities and that they had the best upbringing and childhood possible.
"I recall coaching against Rick when he was the Moruya Swans Under 12's coach and I was coach of the Magic U/12's. He had both boys in his Moruya team back then. To see him go on and be able to play A Grade at Moss Vale with both of the boys in the same team was very special to him and Kat.
"I will remember Rick, not only as a great mate, but as a wonderful man who gave his all to everything that he got involved in and as someone that had such a positive impact on the lives of so many people without expecting anything in return.
"I have lost a great mate and lifelong friend who will be dearly missed but never forgotten."
ANZ commercial lending manager and former Illawarra Hawks NBL player Michael Dajcic also sung the praises of Rick.
"He will be remembered for his can do approach, professionalism and strong work ethic, a real team player always willing to help others. Nothing was too hard or too much trouble for Rick. A lifetime friend who brought joy to many who were in his company," he said.
Moss Vale Basketball Association life member Paul Barcicki sung the praises of Rick as a friend and a man dedicated to the sport of basketball.
"He was a great bloke who touched and improved the lives of so many," Barcicki said.
"Rick started his love of basketball in Kiama, where he also met the other love of his life, Katrina, and moved through programs in Illawarra, Batemans Bay and Moruya.
Barcicki pointed out that while Rick and his family moved around a bit due to his work with the ANZ Bank, he immersed himself in basketball where ever he was.
"He has made a truly remarkable contribution to basketball and Moss Vale District Basketball Association."
Rick's impact as a coach has been felt extensively including:
- Batemans Bay 2001 U17B, Moruya 2002 U18B, Moruya 2003 U12B
- Moruya 2004 U12B, Moruya 2005 U12B.
Rick then began a long period of coaching and development in Moss Vale including:
- 2006 U12 Men
- 2007 U16 Men
- 2008 U18 Men
- 2009 U18 Men
- 2010 Youth League where he was named NSW Youth League Div 2 Coach of the Year
- 2012 U12 Men
- 2013 U16 Men
- 2014 U18 Men
- 2015 U18 Men
- 2016 U16 Women, Assistant Coach U12 boys
- 2017 U18 Men, Open Men, U18 Southern Blues Head Coach
- 2018 U18 Men, Open Men
-2019 U18 Men, Youth League Assistant Coach
- 2020 U18 Men, Youth League
- 2021 Youth League
Rick also coached Chevalier and Oxley College teams in the Independent School Association (ISA) competition, including a stint as netball coach, and was immersed in the local competition. His roles included:
- Chevalier College 1st V coach from 2006 - 2016.
- Oxley College 1st V Girls coach 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020 - 21.
- Player/Coach of domestic teams in A, B and C grade.
- At least six wins in Moss Vale A grade basketball competition in 2013, 2015, 2015-16, 2016, 2017, 2019
As a referee Rick offered his services in the domestic competition as well as in the Country Championships and Southern Junior League on behalf of Moss Vale Association.
He was also did fill in matches for State League, and refereed at World Masters Games in Sydney 2009.
Barcicki said that Rick and his family had contributed significantly to referee development and coaching, representative and domestic refereeing and demonstrated considerable skills as players, locally and at representative levels.
He pointed out that Rick served on the Moss Vale Basketball Association Board in roles including chairman from 2011 to 2016, as well as serving on Match and Representative Committees for several years.
Rick also took responsibility for Moss Vale Magic's social media and website and was involved in the push for the Southern Highlands Multipurpose Indoor Sports Stadium project.
He is survived by his wife Katrina and sons Brandon and Mitch.