North Forty News
Coach Rick Carlson is retiring after 22 years of coaching at Wellington Middle School, and on October 19, there will be a celebration. Here is the story of the man who turned things around for Wellington football and the lives of countless boys who shared the field with him.
Rick started coaching with his son, Sam Carlson, who went on to play for CSU and NFL. Once his son made it through junior high (at the time), he realized how much of a positive impact he could have on the community and school. Throughout his time as a coach, Rick saw all his student-athletes as his own, like sons. He taught them about the game of football and how to be responsible and respectful young men.
Principal Kelby Benedict shares what an honor it has been working with Coach Carlson: “Rick is a servant leader that models all the characteristics that he instills in his athletes…integrity, respect, hard work, teammate, and role model. He inspired his students and coaches to be the best version of themselves, emphasized the student first in the classroom, and all his coaching and teaching was centered around individual and team character.”
Julie Carlson shares more of the story, “Rick enjoys being a life coach for these boys, and so many of them stay in touch into their high school years and beyond. So many have also attended youth programs at River of Life Church, where Rick is the senior pastor of 26 years.”
Before Rick’s time as a coach at Wellington Middle School, teams were scarce, and no one wanted to play for Wellington because they could not seem to capture a “win.” When Coach Carlson came on board, he revamped the mentality and the love for the game, and things began to turn around. In prior years, the teams consisted of 20-30 players. In the last 15 years of coaching, the team was running upwards of 50 to 60 players.
Rick’s favorite saying that he would tell the boys was, “When it is too tough for everyone else, it’s just right for us.” He was constantly instilling words of wisdom. “Don’t ever quit or give up.” “Don’t ever see yourself as a loser; you can be great, but it does take hard work.”
Rick remembers special games against Kinard, going into halftime down by two touchdowns, yet to score. He gave a good pep talk and encouraged the boys not to give up but to stick to our plan. The Eagles ended up winning that game. Then, there was the game against Boltz when they were down by two, and with 3 seconds left, the Eagles overcame and went for a long bomb to the end zone and won. This win secured them a place in the championship.
Coach Carlson always enjoyed beating the “big City Teams.” Of course, those teams looked down on the little country school, but that worked well for Coach Carlson and his teams. They always went into each game with “big shoulders” and the attitude that they would come out with a win.
“Rick Carlson is the guy who wanted to pour everything into his community, and it all started with leaving his church office early and going over to the junior high to volunteer as a coach,” shares Julie.
“We are just really excited to honor his legacy and commitment to Wellington Middle School and our community,” shares Principal Benedict. Anyone who knows Coach Carlson can attend the celebration at Wellington Middle School’s Eyestone Field, 3:30 pm on October 19, 2021, during the final 8th-grade football game of the season.
Originally published in North Forty News, October 12, 2021