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Amy's legacy lives on at Rockridge
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Amy's legacy lives on at Rockridge

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As a new year begins, the final month of 2021 saw a personal loss on the area high school sports landscape.

Rick Amy, a state-championship winning coach for Rockridge's football and wrestling programs and a member of the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Fame, died at 67 on Dec. 3.

Beyond guiding the Rocket wrestlers to the 1990 Class A state team title (and a second-place finish the following year) and the Rockridge football squad to the 1994 2A state crown, Amy's legacy runs much deeper.

During the course of a 35-year teaching career at Rockridge, the 1972 Sherrard graduate was the first head coach for the Rockets' softball program in addition to his football and wrestling duties.

He also started the high school's Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter along with the junior high wrestling program and the "Little Guys" football and wrestling programs. He also served a stint as Rockridge's junior varsity baseball coach.

"He had his hand in everything at Rockridge; he built a lot of programs, not just football and wrestling," Rockridge head wrestling coach Lucas Smith said. "He did a lot for the community, and for the kids in general. He was in it for all the right reasons.

"He was always there for the kids, and he wanted to see them have what was best for them."

A 2005 Aledo High School graduate, Smith remembers competing against Amy's teams on the gridiron and the wrestling mat as well as attending wrestling camps with Amy's youngest son, Keith.

"Even though I went to Aledo, he tried to help me any way he could," Smith said. "He always had positive words for you."

Rockridge head football coach Jeff Henry remembers working with Amy when he first arrived here some 20 years ago.

"I was the junior high coach with Rick, and I also helped in the booth on Friday nights," he said. "I wanted to fit in when I came to Rockridge, and be a part of the tradition that he was such a big part of building. Coach Amy's fingerprints are all over our school, no question about it.

"When people in the state of Illinois mention Rockridge, a name that is brought up is Coach Amy and his sons, Steve, Kevin and Keith."

While admitting to the sudden feeling of loss when he and others in the community learned of Amy's passing, he did and still has a profound impact.

"It was shocking to hear we had lost him," Henry said. "It didn't take long for people to talk about the impact he had on their lives. That's what a great teacher and coach does."

That impact extended to the softball field, where the Rockets have enjoyed tremendous success with nine state-tournament appearances and three state titles, including last year's 29-0, Class 2A-winning club.

The seeds for that success were planted by Amy back in 1990, when the softball program made its debut.

"Unfortunately, I was never privileged to meet Coach Amy," Rockridge softball coach John Nelson said, "but I'm grateful to him for getting the program off the ground and pointed in a positive direction. You look at that, and what he did with the football and wrestling programs, he's set the standard of excellence."

Rockridge graduate Keith Bognar has been involved with softball in various capacities since that debut season of '90, and also knew Amy from their days of playing football against each other in the early '70s in the old Corn Belt Conference.

"We knew each other through competition, but once you knew Rick, you were friends with him forever," Bognar said. "From our time in high school, we connected. You could tell he was going to win. He had that winning spirit. When he was JV football coach, you could tell he wanted to be varsity coach someday.

"He had that drive going for him, and that connection with the kids. He got the kids excited to play the game."

Even though football and wrestling were his areas of expertise, he got to know softball through coaching a travel team in 1989 before the high school program made its debut. He used that knowledge to help the Rockets find success.

"Rick volunteered to take it on, and from that point on, he made it successful," Bognar said. "That's the kind of coach he was. He had that ability, and he made it happen. He developed the (softball) program once he had the opportunity, and he is our pioneer by far.

"Rick is a true icon here, and he will be missed."


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