The wheels were put in motion before the 2013 season began. A number of Jefferson Forest parents organized a celebration for Don Rice and his ten years of service as the head coach of the Cavaliers. "A number of former players came and when you hear ten years [in makes it sink in]," Rice said Friday morning.
Following a decade in Forest, Rice has resigned. The details of his resignation were discussed Thursday with JF principal Tony Francis. Rice said he plans to inform the entire team today (Friday).
Athletic Director John Otey said the position will be posted on November 20th. It will remain posted for one month and JF will begin the interviewing process in January, once school resumes following the holiday break.
The main reason for Rice's resignation stems from his desire to spend more time with his family. He and his wife have been discussing the topic "for a couple years." The two have three children, two boys and a girl, ages 13, 11, and 8. The family plans to take a three-month cross-country trip this coming summer to see a number of sights and states, including California and Alaska.
His children are also at the age in which he can be their coach instead of coaching other kids he said.
"I've had a great time here. I'm happy. I'm in a good place," Rice said.
In his ten years, Rice's teams went 55-52 (according to vhsl-reference.com). They reached the playoffs five times and played in three regional championship games, coming up short to Amherst County twice and Broadway.
JF did not make this year's playoffs after dealing with a number of critical injuries, namely to starting quarterback Ryan Crist. The Cavaliers finished the season 4-6.
Rice's tenure at JF also coincided with two of the most dominant teams in the history of the VHSL playing in the same Seminole District. Under Scott Abell, Amherst won back to back Division 4 state titles and at Brookville, Jeff Woody led the Bees to back to back Division 3 state titles and a runner up finish. "We still did some good things here [at JF]. We may not have had the same level of talent as other teams but we [accomplished a lot]," Rice said.
Rice, 48, said he will remain a JF teacher this year and could very well be there again next year. One thing is clear; Rice's coaching days are not over. "I have a good 15 years left of coaching in me," he said. Rice would consider being an assistant coach next year. "Maybe a defensive coordinator," he said.