Rick Eckert has always enjoyed working with kids, whether by officiating for youth leagues, coaching youth teams, mentoring — the list goes on.
“The opportunity to help young people find their passion, expand their knowledge and accomplish what they may have thought they couldn’t is very rewarding … and often challenging,” the 1992 education graduate from Newman University said.
Today, Eckert teaches at Emporia High School in Emporia, Kansas, and coaches both the girls and boys golf teams.
“The most enjoyable thing for me has been the great kids I have worked with and the opportunity to see them grow physically and intellectually throughout their high school years,” he said. “It is amazing to have watched so many young people evolve from awkward incoming freshmen to confident outgoing seniors.”
And over the course of his career, Eckert has had many chances to witness this happen.
He started teaching 30 years ago, right after he graduated from Newman. He taught in western Kansas, the Kansas City area and Texas before arriving in Emporia, Kansas.
In addition to teaching, Eckert has coached golf at the varsity level for 27 years, as well as high school basketball for 11 years and middle school football for two years.
He’s had many proud moments throughout his career, and they all have to do with his students.
At the helm of the boys golf team, he’s led Emporia to one individual state championship title, two league titles and a number of players going on to play at junior colleges and for Division I golf teams.
Additionally, Eckert’s girls golf team has qualified for the state championship eight times and had many individual state qualifiers. In the 2022 season, they won their first league title in school history, qualified for state as a team and placed runner-up for the first time in school history.
“I also had the privilege of coaching all three of my daughters on that team this year, which made it very special,” Eckert said. “Personally, I was named the Centennial League Coach of the Year for the first time and the Kansas Golf Coaches Association Golf Coach of the Year.”
While he’s had great success as a coach, Eckert also achieved big things as a student-athlete on Newman’s golf team. It’s an experience that has translated into his coaching career.
“It gave me a great perspective on the work ethic needed to be a good player, and that is something I have tried to instill in my golfers who dream of playing after high school,” he said. “The time also instilled in me the discipline to work, play and live with balance.”
Looking to the future, Eckert plans to continue teaching and coaching until his son graduates in 2029. He also plans to travel to see his daughters play golf in college.
Wherever he goes, though, he carries the wise words of his grandmother with him.
“God is great. Remember to be thankful for the gifts He has given you,” Eckert said.
Athletic Scholarships at Newman
Athletic Awards are given by individual team coaches, may be stacked with other merit awards, and are renewable as long as the student-athlete continues to participate in their sport and enroll full time.