EVANSTON — Red Devil soccer head coach Brian Richins was born in Laramie and attended kindergarten in the Gem City.
“We moved when I was five years old,” Richins told the Herald. One of Richins’ first memories was being at a Wyoming football game in a child carrier with a blanket over him and a couple of inches of snow on top of the blanket.
“I began to endure the elements of Wyoming athletics at a very early age.” Richins said.
His family moved to his father’s hometown of Grover, Wyoming, in Star Valley, where his father opened a pharmacy in Afton. Richins spent his formative years in Star Valley. He competed in athletics through his freshman year but outdoor pursuits began to replace time spent with team sports.
“I loved being at home and lived right up against a national forest. I didn’t have to travel anywhere to go snowmobiling. It was right outside my back door,” the coach explained.
“I worked on a dairy farm with one of my best friends and spent summers fishing, hiking, hunting and chasing around in the hills and mountains,” he added.
Richins recalls that at the time, he didn’t realize how good he had it be raised in Star Valley, but in retrospect?
“My childhood was really fun and relaxed, almost utopiian. What a great place to grow up!”
He always loved team sports even though he opted not to participate in high school.
“We had very good athletes in my class. We traveled down to Laramie in my senior year and both our boys’ and girls’ teams won state championships in basketball in Laramie. Those are great memories,” Richins recalls.
After high school, Richins followed some friends to attend college in Rexburg, Idaho, for a year, prior to serving an LDS mission in Milan, Italy. Unbeknownst to Richins at the time, Italy is where his love of soccer would originate.
“I arrived in Italy the day after they lost to Argentina in the semifinals of the World Cup in 1990. Italy was hosting the World Cup of soccer that year. I had never experienced national mourning at that level.It was like their world had come to an end. I had never seen anything like it. Milan is a city of four to five million people and they were all just downtrodden. Yet, it was amazing to see that type of passion at that level,” Richins said.
After serving his mission, Richins began to attend school at the University of Wyoming.
Both of his parents were UW graduates and Richins had a lot of family in Laramie. He told the Herald he couldn’t wait to get down to Cowboy and Cowgirl athletic events and just be in Laramie, recalling his fondness for the community and UW from his youth. He pursued a degree in elementary education, which may have been a foregone conclusion.
“I was the oldest of seven kids growing up and my brothers are 10 and 13 years younger than me. I loved teaching them and their friends how to play football and basketball. I had an opportunity to coach a little league baseball team in the summer after my mission and just loved the experience. I realized I loved being around kids, teaching them and experiencing life with them,” Richins avowed.
Laramie and UW also hold a soft spot in Richins’ heart for another reason, as that is where he met his future wife, Brenda Jacobson.
“Many of my Proffit cousins were in Laramie and they were friends with Brenda, especially Kim Proffit. We used to go fishing, mountain bike riding and enjoy all the recreational pursuits Laramie has to offer together, along with attending Wyoming Cowboy games,” Richins explained, noting his cousins introduced him to Brenda.
Richins recalled asking Brenda to attend a concert with him and she agreed.
“I took a music appreciation class and one of the requirements was to attend a variety of concert performances. I like most kinds of music but this brass quartet playing classical music was an endurance test. Right before intermission, Brenda asked me, ‘Can we leave at halftime?’ I knew I’d found the love of my life. Anyone who referred to a concert’s intermission as halftime I knew was my girl,” Richins comically stated.
Richins applied for teaching jobs in Wyoming, northern Colorado and in Idaho. His student teaching took place in Jacobson’s hometown of Evanston and he really liked what he had experienced here. A position to teach third grade at Uinta Meadows opened up and Richins jumped on the opportunity in rapid fashion. After two years, an opening to teach fifth grade at Clark Elementary, where he had student taught, became available and Richins has been there ever since.
Most of the coach profiles the Herald will feature during the summer months will be about the length of the first part of this profile on Richins. However, this interview was quite in-depth and showcases a number of interesting facts and tid-bits about Richins, along with a few surprises that the Herald believes our readers will enjoy.
In part two of our profile of Richins in next Tuesday’s Herald, he addresses the state of soccer in the Evanston community and speculates on its future. He also describes how huge the sport has become in the region. Richins also identifies his mentors, including his father-in-law, Hall of Fame coach Brad Jacobson, and how his mentors have helped to shape his coaching philosophies and the methods and stategies he employs within his soccer program.
His love and adoration for all things Wyoming Cowboy also shines through and he shares his belief about “two of the worst places in the world” — hint, one of them is Ft. Collins, Colorado.