Rhodes inducted into South Dakota High School Coaches Hall of Fame
Jerry Rhodes Sr., former Philip High School teacher and coach was inducted into the South Dakota High School Coach’s Hall of Fame Sunday, July 17th, in Mitchell, SD. Rhodes, a 1964 graduate of Presho High School, attended Black Hills State University where he majored in physical education with a minor in history. Rhodes began his coaching career in 1968 as an assistant football coach for Presho. From 1969-1973 he taught and coached in Pine Ridge. While there, he was the head football coach, freshman basketball coach, head track & field coach, and he also served as athletic director for two years. In 1973 Rhodes moved to Kimball, SD, where he was the head coach for football, basketball, and assistant track & field coach.
Rhodes moved to Philip in 1974 to be the head coach for football, cross country, and track & field, as well as being the junior high football coach and assistant basketball coach. While in Philip he served as the athletic director for five years and was the FCA huddle leader. From 1981-1983 Jerry took a break from teaching. In 1983 he returned to teaching and coaching in Philip as the head coach for cross country and track & field. He retired from teaching in 2010. “Philip was very good to me and my family,” said Rhodes. “It is a great place to raise your children.”
In 2010, during his last year of coaching, Rhodes took four high school boys track members to the Howard Wood Relays and they won four relays. They also set records in two of them. Those four, Jeff O’Connell, Brandon O’Dea, Casey Cvach and Rob Williamson, also helped the boy’s track team to the State B title that year as well. “That is, by far, one of the most prestigious track events to attend and these four guys really performed,” said Coach Rhodes. “I couldn’t have asked any more out of those boys that trip, and to this day I don’t know if that has ever been repeated. They made a huge impression on me, but more importantly, they made a huge impression on themselves, and showed what giving 110% into their work ethic can do, not only for themselves, but their teammates.” He tried to instill a work ethic on every athlete, and his philosophy was, “The good Lord has given everyone a certain amount of talent and you take that and give 110% and you will become a winner, no matter if at the end of the race you won or lost.”
In 1987 Rhodes was nominated for Boy’s Cross Country Coach of the Year. His boys track team placed second in the State B that next spring. He was the Region 4 Football Coach of the Year in 2004, 9A Assistant Football Coach of the Year in 2005, Boy’s Track & Field Coach of the Year in 2010, received the Hometown Hero Award for Philip in 2010, and was inducted into the Lyman School District Hall of Fame. Also in 2010 he made the top eight finalist for the Top National Boys Track Coach in the nation. Rhodes traveled to Grand Rapids Michigan for that honor. Jerry also drafted the proposal of state qualifying track & field meets for individuals and relays.
Rhodes and his wife, Ruth, had three sons Jason, Wade, and Justin. Ruth developed a brain tumor and passed away in 1977. He and his second wife, Patti, had two sons, Brady and Jerry Jr. He credits Patti for being the inspiration to continue on from a loss so deep. “She kind of kept things together for me and my boys,” said Rhodes. “ twas a highlight in my life to meet her."
Another highlight of his career in coaching, was in his earlier years in Pine Ridge. “In 1972 we were setting up things for track practice in Pine Ridge and in walked a guy wanting to practice with the kids, and he said his name was Billy Mills,” said Rhodes. “He shook my hand as I was saying yes you sure can.” Billy Mills was an Oglala Lakota former track and field athlete who won the gold medal in the 10,000 meter run at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. “He spent a week with our track team running and visiting with them,” said Rhodes. “It was a great experience for all of us.”