Rick Spring may have been born in Illinois, but he’s spent the past 32 years in eastern St. Tammany Parish.
That’s about to change as Spring recently was selected to be the boys basketball coach at Hahnville. The move became official Wednesday evening after new hires were made public by the St. Charles Parish School Board.
Spring, 51, has coached basketball in the St. Tammany area since 1993, when he began as an assistant at Slidell. A few years after helping guide that team to a Class 5A runner-up finish, he became coach at Pearl River for two years, and eventually became coach at Slidell for six seasons.
His first season at Hahnville will be his ninth as a head coach. He’s compiled a 160-89 record in that eight-year span. Most recently, Spring served as an assistant coach at Salmen, which reached the Class 4A title game in March. He was the Spartans freshman coach for four years and those teams compiled a 62-8 record. Before Spring’s stint with Salmen, he won three St. Tammany Parish junior high championships as coach at Boyet Junior High in Slidell.
Spring said he will be moving to St. Charles Parish over the summer, and that leaving the Slidell area is hard for him. However, he said he feels he has “one good run left in him as a high school head coach.”
“You gauge where you are personally, where you are experience-wise,” he said. “You look ahead to the future and think about where you’re going to be. … I think of it in decades. In 10 years, I’ll be 61. Hopefully, I’ll be at Hahnville, still coaching then and helping them succeed.”
Spring said he wouldn’t leave his job as an assistant at Salmen “for anything less than the right situation.” Working alongside Spartans longtime coach Jay Carlin makes it an even more difficult move for Spring.
“Every day with Jay is a basketball clinic,” Spring said. “I’ve known him for 20 something years now, and he hasn’t lost one step. I wasn’t jumping away from Salmen for any opportunity. I was jumping for the right opportunity. Hahnville is it.”
Spring said the Tigers return four starters from last year’s team that finished 15-16 under coach Marcell Fisher and lost in the first round of playoffs to eventual Class 5A champion Scotlandville. Spring planned on meeting the Hahnville team for the first time this week, then meeting with parents sometime next week.
“They had a strong season, and only lost one starter and the sixth man,” Spring said. “So this is not a rebuilding situation at all. That’s one of the main reasons I applied for the job. I can hit the ground running.”
Hahnville Principal Ken Oertling said his program seeks stability after recommending Spring to become its third coach in four years. He sees that chance in his new hire.
“His experience with successful programs, his enthusiasm, his organizational skills, answering all our questions,” Oertling said were things that drew him to Spring. “Those things and his personality. The kids will enjoy working with him, and the community will embrace him. He’ll be a great fit into the family environment we have at Hahnville.”
Carlin said losing Spring to the Tigers isn’t exactly unexpected.
“You always want another basketball mind with you; someone you can bounce ideas off of, someone who has a passion for the game and for working with the kids,” Carlin said. “That’s Rick. When you have someone on the sideline with you like that, they do come and go because people look for that in a head coach, too. Fortunately for Rick, he got the opportunity he was looking for. Hahnville is lucky to have him.”
Spring said he’s thankful for the opportunity to become a head man again.
“I’ve got roots in Slidell. I have two grown children who went through the school system here. I knew I had been around for a long time when I’d go to the mall and player after player would come up and say ‘Hey, coach. Hey, coach.’
“Then, I started seeing the kids of players I had already coached many years ago.
“So, sure, this place has been really good to me. But I’m looking forward to making the same kind of effort in Hahnville. It’s a great opportunity for me.”