Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Rick LaRose -- The Consummate Teacher
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 28, 2007
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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"He teaches who gives," Emerson said, "and learns, who receives."

            Few coaches in University of Arizona history have taught -- and given -- as much as Rick LaRose.

            The Wildcat men's golf coach is now in his 35th year at the school.

            The list of those who've learned -- and received -- from this gifted teacher is amazing.  It inclues Jim Furyk, Don Pooley, Robert Gamez, David Berganio,  Rory Sabbatini, Ted Purdy,  Mike Springer, Larry Silveira, Manny Zerman, Christian Pena and Eric Meeks, among others.

            Not to mention two-time NCAA Women's Golfer of the Year and two-time Honda Award winner, Marissa Baena.

For five years, LaRose did double-duty as both men's and women's golf coach. Before that he coached the school's water polo team and assisted Bob Davis with the swimming team.

            In his spare time he has competed in the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship, won the 1996, '97 and '98 Dogwood Invitational Senior Amateur Titles, the 1998 Porter Cup Senior Amateur championship and has been a member of the Arizona Golf Association's Goldwater Cup team.

            And until last year, he was still playing Tucson City League baseball in the summer.

            Growing up in Delmar, N.Y., a suburb of Albany, Rick played baseball (his favorite sport), softball, football and basketball.  He ran cross country, swam and took up golf at the age of 12.      

            At Bethlehem High School in Delmar he lettered in swimming, baseball and golf.  At Brockport State he was a three-time All-American swimmer, won three SUNY Conference swimming championships and the 1967 New York State Collegiate Golf title.

            He completed graduate work at the University of California-Irvine and at Arizona.

            Rick played professional fast-pitch softball for the Tucson Rattlers in 1976.

            His coaching career at UA started in 1973 when he was named head coach of the Wildcat water polo team.  It was a men's sport in those days, but LaRose is delighted about talk that water polo will make a comeback at Arizona as a women's competition.

            "It's a great sport," he said.  "And water polo will be a way for the school to stay on top of gender equity.  You play seven at a time, but we used to travel with 18 players. It's an exciting sport and will fit in perfectly at UA, with our new aquatic center."

            Facilities were slightly more Spartan when LaRose coached men's water polo.  "I remember going to Manley Lumber and buying material to make our floating goals," he said.

            As with any athletic coach, it's a big thrill for Rick when one of his former players makes it professionally.

But he's just as tickled when they do well in business or a profession.

            Take Steve Prelsnik.  "I'm so proud of him," LaRose said.  "Steve's one of my former water polo players and he has made it to fire chief at Seaside, Calif.

And Harry Rudolph, a member of our 1992 national championship golf team -- he runs Harry's Cafe in LaJolla Calif."

            Evidently, what they learn from Rick they don't forget.  Four years ago, the world Forty and Over water polo championship went to a team composed almost entirely of LaRose's 1976 Arizona Wildcat squad.

            Rick is the only coach ever to win both a men's (1992) and women's (1996) NCAA championship.

            He was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America's Hall of Fame four years ago.

            His accomplishments would fill a good-sized trophy case, but Rick says he is more impressed -- and inspired -- by the others on UA's intercollegiate athletic coaching staff.  "People such as Lute Olson, Frank Busch, Mike Candrea, Dave Rubio and Fred Harvey," LaRose said. "These are great coaches who've been around here a long time and who have at least one thing in common.  They care about kids."

            His fellow Wildcat coaches would say the same thing about Rick.

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