Youth sports coach selected as citizen of year by Kiwanis

Rick Diaz

Richard “Rick” Diaz started coaching youth sports for the same reason other fathers do: his children.

The difference between Diaz and some dads, however, is that once his children grew up, Diaz kept on coaching.

On Thursday, Diaz, 48, was named the Kiwanis Club of Grand Junction’s Citizen of the Year during its annual Charter Dinner for all the time Diaz gives to local youth either through sports or through behavioral counseling of at-risk students in School District 51.

Diaz, not a Kiwanis member, was flattered but a little overwhelmed by the attention.

“Honestly, I’m a behind-the-scenes guy,” Diaz said. “I love coaching. I love working with kids.”

Diaz’ humble attitude but steadfast commitment to youth is why he received this year’s award, said Pete Jouflas, part of the Citizen of the Year committee.

“We give it to someone who has never been recognized,” Jouflas said. “It’s the under-the-radar types who do a lot for this community.”

Diaz has coached at Tiger Paws Wrestling club, which works with first- to eighth- graders, for the past 15 years. He has served on the Monument Little League Board for an estimated 18 years. Four years ago, he was brought into District 51 as a behavior life coach, working with at-risk youth in a mentor role.

“It’s just coaching life instead of tee ball,” Diaz said.

He added that he never set out to be a longtime youth coach, but once he got started with his children he just never saw a reason to stop.

In fact, Diaz said he remembers telling one of his children the other night that their involvement “helped me figure out who I am supposed to be in this community.”

Also Thursday night, Orville Boge was given the annual BOBS Award, which is an internal award for the organization.


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