LAFAYETTE — When Ross Rix needs an assistant coach, he instinctively knows where to look.
No coaching network or rolodex listing candidates is necessary.
Immediate help resides in a familiar place and Rix certainly knows the way there.
For the second time in the past two seasons, Rix has solicited the aid of the man who taught him the game and the guidelines for developing a basketball program.
That’s why it’s perhaps only natural this season to see Rix coaching boys basketball at Northside High alongside his father James Rix, a college and high school coaching veteran who’s seen more basketball than either can count.
“It’s worked out well for both of us,” said Ross Rix, who was chosen for the Northside job in July after Devan Clark left to become boys coach at his alma mater, Southern Lab.
“Dad and I bring two different points of view to the game, but in the end, we always end up agreeing,” Ross Rix said. “We’re both sort of old school, but he’s a little more old school than I am. Sometimes I have to tell him to loosen up a little.”
Ross Rix said he accepted the Northside position without an assistant coach.
It didn’t take long, however, for him to dial up a candidate. He already knew the number.
“I needed the help, and I had the best person I could find,” he said. “I mean, he was already coaching basketball before I was born.
“Dad had already coached at Northside as an assistant several years back (under Rick Lebato), and he still knew the leaders in the community (in north Lafayette).
“It meant bringing him out of retirement for a second time, but it was kind of a no-brainer not to have him coaching along with me,” Ross Rix said.
James Rix came to his son’s aid last year when Ross Rix coached the boys basketball team at Jennings.
“The guy who was scheduled to be Ross’ assistant (at Jennings) was a football coach, and he was tied up in the playoffs when the season was starting,” he said. “I went and helped there.
“Then when he got to Northside, it was the same situation, except at the time he got the job, there was no one assigned to help,” James Rix said.
James Rix has extensive coaching experience, serving on Todd Foster’s staff at Baton Rouge Community College and then taking over the interim head coaching duties when Foster left.
During the early 1990s, he was on Marty Fletcher’s men’s basketball staff at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette). Since the 1980s, James Rix has also been deeply involved in coaching Louisiana-based AAU basketball teams.
When Ross Rix coached boys basketball at Catholic High-New Iberia several years ago, James Rix did most of the game preparation work.
“I did all the advance scouting, write up a report and then bring it back,” James Rix said. “Last year (at Jennings), when there was no assistant, I came over there to help. This year, it’s been fun and it keeps me involved.”
James Rix said when there’s an ultimate decision pending, he defers to his son, even during the middle of a game.
“(Ross) is the head coach,” he said. “It’s his program, and I’m the assistant and I do whatever he wants to do at the game. I like the teaching part and I like the young kids we have.
“My son (a former UL-Lafayette football player) has the football mentality when it comes to the video. I watch it once, and he watches film more intently, probably three times,” James Rix said.
During games, Ross Rix has his father charting offensive possessions, and sometimes there’s a conference on what play should be run.
“In the end, we always end up with the same decision between him and me,” Ross Rix said.
James Rix said he only knows of one other father-son tandem coaching boys high school basketball this season.
Peabody Magnet’s Charles Smith and his son Kedric are coaching at the Alexandria school, James Rix said.
Team Rix also has another generation intertwined, as Northside sophomore Christian Clinton is a team member and grandson of James Rix.
Northside is 13-8 and 2-1 in District 5-4A. The Vikings are scheduled to host a high-scoring St. Martinville High team on Tuesday night.
James Rix said he’s also enjoying the work with the seven other sophomores on the Vikings.
“The thing I like about these kids is they work hard and they are willing to improve. It’s a good group and they have a good future,” James Rix said.