Back in January, Rick Casko voluntarily stepped down as the head football coach at Seminole Ridge High School. His departure from the local high school football head coaching ranks marked the end of a 30-plus-year run as a high school head football coach, both in Palm Beach County and in Georgia.
But his plans were never to have a “cold turkey” break from the game, and he wanted to remain connected to the football program at Seminole Ridge without having the responsibility of being the school’s varsity head coach, a post now held by Chad Chieffalo.
So, Casko, who’s love for coaching football remains strong, became the offensive coordinator for Seminole Ridge’s junior varsity football team.
“I am now coaching high school football without the demands and responsibilities of being the varsity head coach,” said Casko, who remains a physical education teacher at Seminole Ridge. “We have 52 players on the team, and 46 of them are freshmen.”
Casko has relished the chance to share his vast knowledge of the game with his young players.
“I’ve enjoyed working with young kids,” Casko said. “The players are responding well to the coaching, and we’ve had fun. I’m working with a number of players who have very little football playing experience, but they show up at practice on time, they practice hard, and they play hard.”
Clearly, the players are listening to Casko’s words of wisdom.
“We’re scoring a lot of points and winning,” he said. “We’re 3-0 on the season.”
As a result of his coaching transition, he has had more time to spend with friends, family members and his wife Debi.
“This fall on Friday nights, I’ve been to a pair of concerts, spent time with friends and gone to dinner with my wife,” Casko said.
But he has not been totally disconnected from Seminole Ridge’s varsity team.
“I admit that I have checked the scores on my phone,” Casko said.
During the week, he provides regular input to Chieffalo, but only when asked.
“I still watch film, and I’m in touch with the varsity program behind the scenes,” Casko explained. “The transition has worked out like I thought it would. I’m preparing players for their varsity football careers. And I’m not doing the team’s laundry on the weekend anymore.”
Chances are strong that Casko’s tutelage may motivate some of his current players to follow in his coaching footsteps, just as two of Casko’s football coaches inspired him to become a football coach.
Casko, who played quarterback at John I. Leonard High School in Greenacres and then in college at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, is forever drawn to the positive power of teamwork.
“I had a high school football coach who was very passionate and really cared about kids,” Casko recalled. “I had a college football staff at Drake that really taught the game of football. In college, it was another level of concept, scheme, film and strategies. I was drawn to the fact of 11 men working together for one common goal. I love the commitment and work ethic required to be successful as a team.”
While it may be a cliché, Casko enjoys the process of coaching football, as success in football is based on the ability of a team to work together with passion and commitment toward a common goal. It also helps to have a passionate coach on the team.
“I was drawn to the relationships, responsibility, selflessness, respect, trust and leadership developed through playing and coaching football,” Casko said. “There is no better feeling than when you have a group of men working together for one common goal — selflessly — and are victorious together. It’s not the same to be victorious alone.”
For Casko, that passion for football and the commitment needed to be successful remain. And the junior varsity football team at Seminole Ridge is fortunate to have him on the sidelines.