The Paris Boys and Girls Club opened their basketball season Saturday, hosting the area teams that make up their league for a one-day tournament. There were games at the Paris Middle School gym for the younger groups, with the older ones playing at the Boys and Girls Club. Paris has two teams in the league, along with teams from Western Yell, Magazine, and County Line. This year, however, things are a little different.
The Paris Iron Pigs, a team of sixth-grade boys from Paris, is playing with a different perspective this season. Last October, their coach, Rick Nehus, passed away. Rick was no stranger to the Boys and Girls Club programs as he had spent over 30 years coaching multiple sports for the Club. Donna, who was married to Rick for 29 years, says he started before he ever graduated high school.
For the boys, Rick was an influential figure. Last season, though he was not in good health, he would still show up for all the games he could. It was, after all, his team. The current coach, Ryan Cannon, said that Rick is the one who got him into coaching, and he loves carrying on the work that was modeled for him.
The Paris Boys and Girls Club also wanted to honor the work that Rick invested in the program. This season, the Iron Pigs have jerseys that are slightly different from the other teams. They still consider themselves Rick’s team, and across the back of their jersey, just below the numbers, are the words “For Rick.”
The boys played to a second-place finish in their opening weekend without one of their starters, who was out with the flu. This Spring, the Club has one more tribute, as they will host a new tournament in Rick’s honor.