Rich Petska was coaxed out of basketball coaching “retirement” three years ago when Richmond-Burton coach Brandon Creason needed someone to assist in the abbreviated COVID-19 2021 winter season.
Creason asked because Petska, who taught and coached at Harvard, had previously done a couple of short stints on the Rockets’ staff and he lived just north of R-B in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin.
Petska is the complete opposite of retired now.
We are confident Rich will take the program to new heights and build on the strong tradition within the athletic department.”— Tim Jackson, R-B athletic director
The 1995 R-B graduate was hired this week to replace Creason, who has taken the job of principal at Nippersink Middle School. Petska enabled R-B to fill all of Creason’s positions – social studies teacher, boys basketball coach and girls golf coach – with one hire.
“Having an opportunity to coach at my home school, being a ‘95 R-B graduate, that was real appealing to be able to come home,” Petska said. “I live in Twin Lakes, so I have a 10-minute drive instead of 30 minutes. That’s a nice bonus. Richmond’s just a great place. I’m pretty excited to be there, that’s for sure.”
Petska has taught at Harvard for 19 years and was boys basketball coach there for six seasons (2004 through 2009). He and his wife Stephanie have a son, Owen (14) and a daughter, Annika (10).
Petska has been a varsity assistant with Creason for the past three seasons, so the transition should be a smooth one. Creason’s teams were 208-187 in his 14 seasons. The Rockets were 8-22 last season, but lost one starter, Joe Miller, and return a lot of experienced players.
“We have everybody coming back, we have young kids coming through,” Petska said. “We had three freshmen on varsity and a sophomore. Freshman Luke Robinson and sophomore Ryan Wisniewski started for us. We’re actually still young with the guys we have. And knowing those guys for the last three years and coming into a senior-led team is a great situation to be heading into.”
Petska’s love for his alma mater showed in R-B’s interview process.
“The interview team was very impressed with coach Petska’s commitment to R-B and his passion for athletics,” R-B athletic director Tim Jackson said. “We are confident Rich will take the program to new heights and build on the strong tradition within the athletic department.”
Petska credited former R-B boys coach John Stanczykiewicz, who coached him as a sophomore and junior, as someone who made a difference in his life. Stanczykiewicz left before Petska was a senior to take the girls basketball coaching job at Warren and now is an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Famer.
“That guy changed my life. I was a post player as a freshman and he said, ‘Why don’t you shoot 3-pointers?’ " Petska said. “I said, ‘They don’t let me, I’m a post player.’ He said to go home and shoot as many as I could that summer and I’d have a chance at making varsity, and I did. I made it as a sophomore.”