Ronald K. Rice - Faculty | Handley 100th Notable
Ronald K. Rice – Faculty

The year 1966 was a significant one in the history of Winchester Public Schools. Douglas High School graduated its last class in June and after that Winchester Public Schools had only one high school. Ron Rice joined the Handley math department two months later and was named head coach of the football team.

A West Virginia native, Mr. Rice played football and graduated from West Virginia Tech in 1959. He earned his Masters of Education in mathematics at the University of Virginia.

Handley’s football team finished the 1965 season 2-7-1. The 1966 Handley football team was Winchester’s first high school team in the fully racially integrated school system.

The Judges’ first victory under Coach Rice was a hard fought 14-7 win over Martinsburg in the Handley Bowl. A few weeks later, the powerful Clarke County football team came to Handley as 20 point favorites and was defeated 13-12. Handley won 7 games that season.

Handley’s 1967 football team was the first of 2 undefeated Handley teams coached by Ron Rice. Coach Rice used all 53 players on his roster to outscore their opponents 390-49 during the 10 game season.

Handley football under Coach Rice had a record of 43-5-2. His teams won 86% of the games played. Russ Potts credited him with the highest winning percentage of any coach in Handley football history. He won the Winchester Evening Star "Coach of the Year" award twice in 5 years.

At least 30 of Coach Rice’s players went on to play football in college. Don Ratliff went on to play with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL.

Ron Rice was described as a man who took young people and made them want to be something and do something with their lives.

It has been said that Ron Rice built a great team spirit among the players and that the unifying spirit spread to the entire student body, to their families and to many people in the community. That spirit laid the groundwork for the force that would later be called “Handley Pride”.

The students who were at Handley with him remember the man and the teacher. Named “Outstanding Young Educator” by the Jaycees, he was always a teacher and a friend before a coach. David Rice, Class of 1979, recently said that he is astounded to still hear stories about his father’s impact on his students over 50 years after he left Handley.

Coach Rice accepted a position as Assistant Coach at the University of Maryland after the 1970 football season. While on a recruiting trip in West Virginia during his second year with Maryland, Coach Rice suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 35 years old.

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