Nearly 200 parents and players filled the staff Lounge at Temecula Valley High School (TVHS) Thursday night as Principal Alan Williams introduced Rick Mey, the new head coach of the football program.
Mey, 45, comes to Temecula Valley with almost twenty years of experience at the high school and college levels coaching football and teaching strength training. He has been a head coach for thirteen years. He has a reputation for turning around struggling programs. Mey is leaving the head coach job at Copper Canyon High School in Glendale, Arizona, where he took a program that had only one league win in the previous five years to seven wins in two years. TVHS has had a total of four league wins in the last four years.
Prior to Copper Canyon, Mey was the assistant head coach at his alma mater (1987 graduate), Cactus High in Glendale, Arizona. During his time there, the team went 34-5, earned two regional titles and went to the state championships twice. The team won the Division 4A-2 State Championship in 2009, got knocked out in quarterfinals in 2010, and was Division III runner-up in 2011.
From 2004 to 2008, Mey was the head coach at a brand new school, Sandra Day O’Connor in Phoenix where he compiled a 24-29 record and had winning seasons three out of five years, a commendable feat for a new program.
Mey’s first head coaching opportunity was at Deer Valley in Glendale at the age of 28. The school had not had a winning season in ten years. Despite a student body of 2400 students, only 19 players suited up for the football team. In just two years, Mey led them to their first winning season. Over 100 kids were part of the football program that year.
Mey was a walk-on player at Northern Arizona University (NAU) where he earned his undergraduate and teaching credentials in PE and History. He joked that the coaches would tell him “You’re not very big, but you sure are slow!” His playing career ended with a total reconstruction of his shoulder.
He taught two years at Centennial (Peoria, AZ), learning from a coaching staff of which five are now in the D1 college ranks (e.g., Bronco Mendenhall at BYU, Gary Anderson at Wisconsin).
Mey returned to NAU as a Graduate Assistant coach for the defense. He also earned his Masters in Educational Leadership.
Mey received the City of Phoenix Outstanding Teacher Award in 2005. His 2007 and 2012 teams also received the Arizona Interscholastic Association Sportsmanship Award as selected by coaches and referees.
He found out about the TVHS position through a lifelong friend, Dan Gregory, who teaches at TVHS. They were in San Diego together for a softball tournament for Mey’s daughter. Mey researched the school and applied. “He was one of over a hundred applicants,” said principal Williams, “ We looked to see what kind of a person he was first and then the X’s and O’s.”
The interview committee consisted of coaches, teachers, a parent rep and a student rep. “We were looking for an on-campus coach with communication skills, who understands how to work with kids, has good knowledge of the game, and has had prior success,” said Athletic Director Bill Moyer, “Rick is a hard worker with a real commitment to kids.”
“We found a family man with high character, integrity and transparency,” said Williams, “He is moving here to make it a home and he is joining our football program to make it a family.” Mey’s appointment is pending an April 1 approval by the TVUSD board. He will be teaching history at TVHS.
“Football is the biggest classroom on campus,” says Mey, “Athletics is life’s laboratory.” Mey’s coaching philosophy is built on four tenets: love/passion, discipline, character, and work ethic. He places a heavy emphasis on educational and behavioral accountability as well as on life lessons.
He admitted that he has only seen thirty minutes of tape on TVHS, but was impressed with the way kids fly around on defense. He plans on keeping the existing staff in place for now. “We need to become bigger and stronger,” says Mey, “We need to become more involved in our community-feeder programs. We have to create a winning program where kids will want to stay and thrive. We need to become a destination school, to be a national leader in high school football.”
When asked about football philosophy, Mey replies, “It’s not what I know, but it’s what I can get the kids to know and do. Football comes down to who makes the fewest mistakes.” Mey likes to run a high-tempo spread offense with a 60/40 mix of run/pass. “It’s not what I call that’s important, but who I call.” Defensively, he likes a multiple-front attacking style. He has asked coach John Bonaventura to provide two fronts and two coverages for each formation to keep opponents guessing.
Mey also believes in self-policing “The best teams are player-led”; early whistles at practice to prevent injuries “I don’t want to lose Friday nights on the practice field”; no-film Saturdays “I expect parents to bring their kids on Saturdays and walk the hill with them”; and wearing jerseys to school on game days.
There was plenty of positive buzz in the room over Mey’s ideas and philosophies, with parents clapping on the accountability issues and life lessons, surprised looks from all on no film Saturdays and family hill climbs, and players cheering the Friday jersey announcement.
Mey will be moving here with his wife of 19 years, Tina, their two daughters and a son. Lauren will be a senior and plays softball. Marissa will be a sophomore and is a three-sport athlete (volleyball, soccer, softball). Bryce will be entering sixth grade and is a football player.
“This is a fresh start for us,” said Tina, “We are excited about the family-friendly atmosphere. It’s charged with positive energy. This is a great place to raise kids and we told our girls that there is a lot more opportunity out here, more colleges. There are only four in Arizona.”
“My family and I are excited to be here,” said Mey, “The way the community has treated us has been unbelievable.”
Hopefully what he does believe will catch on and Temecula Valley becomes the football powerhouse that they can be. Based on the standing-room only turnout, there are many at TVHS interested in seeing that happen.