RAPID RIVER - A Rocket will coach the Rapid River Rockets varsity boys basketball team.
Richard Poma, a 2003 Rapid River graduate comes in to take over the program high on passion and desire.
"I've wanted to do this for quite a while," he said Friday afternoon. "I wanted to make sure I had my full attention to the program before I took it. I'm in the process of building a house here so this is actually a year early, but the position opened up and it's something I've thought about for a while."
Poma played for the Rockets throughout his high school career and while going to school at Bay College, he coached the Rockets' JV team for a season, before transferring to Northern Michigan University.
He said his decision to enter the world of coaching was influenced by the experience he had and the coaches he had along the way.
"When I was in high school and on JV, I had a great coach - Jerry Collins from Gladstone. He passed away going into my senior year and he was a great coach. He knew who he could push and he was pretty meticulous. He was a perfectionist. I learned a lot from him," said Poma. "And Charlie Cretens from Gladstone and John Miller. I talked to Miller about coming to help and he was all for it. In my opinion, he's one of the best coaches around here.
"Morris Hill will be my assistant coach. He's a guy I met about a year and a half ago; a great player and a guy that knows the game pretty well."
Poma will inherit a Rockets team that went 3-17 in 2012-13, but will include two talented seniors next year in Jake Pearson and Hayden Hardwick.
"Pearson and Hardwick are good kids and I've worked with them before," said Poma. "And the rest of them, I've seen them and they're a great group of kids. I'm looking forward to helping them out and hopefully give them the experience I had when I was in high school."
Poma said he does anticipate challenges for the job but also has ideas on how to reinvigorate the program, such as getting young kids involved.
"I have a lot to learn, no question. Going from being a player to a coach I think will be a hard transition. I'm the kind of person that likes to focus on the little things, whatever it takes to get the win. I like the fundamentals. There's no hidden message about that.
"One thing I want to implement is a little kids program," Poma added.
"Rapid needs someone who will be there all the time, like coach Rick Pepin always was. When I was in high school, whenever we wanted to go in the gym, someone was there, whether it was coach Collins or even parents. I had a good experience and I'd like the kids to get back involved, like I was, or at least have that opportunity."
Pepin, now the athletic director at Rapid River was pleased to announce the hire of Poma on Thursday.
"Richard was a real nice athlete for Rapid River. He coached JV boys basketball for me 8-9 years ago but had to resign because he was knee deep in going to school. I told him when he left that the door would be open to return. It took a few years, but we're grateful to get him back," Pepin said.
"He's a fine young man, someone who bleeds purple and gold. He will bring passion and integrity to the program and we are hopeful that we can have some longevity in this position."
Poma said that while he favors a fast-paced game, he has no problem adapting to what his players are capable of doing.
"I like all aspects of the game. I have no restrictions on what I can do," he said. "I do like the fast-paced, fast-break transition game, but if I can't do that, I'll have to slow it down and take it piece by piece. I just want to compete and be in every game.
"I want to thank coach Pepin for giving me a shot at it and John Miller. I look forward to working with him. He'll be a big help to me," Poma added.