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Placer’s Foley inspires students to excel

Community Portrait
By: Michael Kirby
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Every high school student has had one teacher who had an impact on them – one teacher or coach that they really connected with, whose style and personality they could relate to. There’s that one teacher or coach who really made a difference in their lives and the direction their lives took, that one person they still remember when they reflect on their school days, whose name comes to mind when they’re asked whom would they consider a mentor. In our area schools many teachers and coaches come to mind, successful teachers and coaches who have made a difference in the lives of our high school students. We are blessed with individuals who put so much effort into their jobs going way beyond the job description, educators who care. Placer High School math teacher and coach Rick Foley is one of these educators. A coach since 1980, a teacher since 1984, and faculty member at Placer High School for the last 11 years, Foley has the personality traits that make him an inspiration to many students. He teaches mathematics, pre-calculus, algebra 1 and 2. Foley has been the head varsity track coach for 10 years and is currently the head JV football coach, and has also coached football on the freshman and varsity levels. Foley is just one of those guys who has the ability to motivate students to be better than they ever thought they could be. On the football or track teams or in the classroom, Foley inspires students to excel. “I love the kids, and it’s not coaching or teaching. I see coaching as teaching, it’s just an extension of my teaching day and another opportunity to have a positive influence on the kids,” Foley said. Foley was a three-sport athlete in high school and admits that he had several good men who were teacher-coaches when he was coming up that inspired him, not just how to be a good athlete and student but how to be a good man. “I have always wanted to have a purposeful life, not just earning a living, and kids have been my purpose for many years, being with students and involved with youth groups,” Foley said. Foley has several mantras he lives by and passes on to students in the hope they are receptive. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” is one of his little sayings he uses to inspire. “Work works,” is another Foley quote he likes to implant in students’ minds. Foley also tries to teach students and athletes that being a stand-up and classy individual is OK. “I try to help them understand that doing the right thing is cool, shaking hands, looking people in the eye, doing the right thing, it’s OK to be a good person,” Foley said. One of Foley’s proudest career accomplishments is the number of student-athletes that he and cross-country coach Randal Fee have moved on to running at the college level. “My inspiration comes from having a God-centered life with a purpose, and I don’t always get it right, I guarantee that. Each team helps me build my personal character,” Foley said. “My wife always tells me it’s not what you do, it’s who you are, you’re Coach Foley,” he said. Foley lives in Auburn with his wife, Joslyne, and sons, James and Johnny, both Placer students.