Rachel Proudfoot recently resigned from her post as the Desert Vista girls basketball coach because an ailing loved one was in need.
She decided weeks ago, but waited until after finals on Wednesday to tell her players.
It happened to fall on the same day the Desert Vista community received a harsh reminder about just how fleeting life can be with the sudden death of security guard Pat Quinn.
The last thing Proudfoot wanted to do was add to the solemn atmosphere with news that she was stepping down, but out of it came acknowledgement that she is doing the right thing.
“Oh my God it was such a tough day,” Proudfoot said on Thursday. “I planned on telling the girls after finals and then we lost Pat Quinn. Everyone was devastated, but (senior) Emily Thorton said something amazing.
“She said, ‘If we learned anything from this it is never wait to tell someone how much they mean to you. You are not just a coach to us. You changed my life forever.’ So that means more to me than anything we did on the court.”
Proudfoot said Quinn was a huge part of the Desert Vista community.
“Our students, every department and every building was devastated,” she said. “I asked all my classes (on Wednesday) to raise their hands if he ever made you smile on a day you didn’t want to be here and every one of them raised their hand.
“The guy was amazing. Every time I pulled into the parking lot he took his hands and made a heart. What a way to start your day and now that he hasn’t been here to do that it has been so hard.”
It only gave credence to her decision to head to Virginia.
Proudfoot’s godmother, Doris Vidano, has Huntington’s Disease, which results from genetically programmed degeneration of brain cells, called neurons, in certain areas of the brain. This degeneration causes uncontrolled movements, loss of intellectual faculties, and emotional disturbance.
Vidano, who lives in Charlottesville, Va., recently had her funding for physical therapy and extracurriculars cutoff so Proudfoot is heading there to help her keep active throughout the day.
“When I took this job four years ago it was between going to help her out and taking the DV job,” Proudfoot said. “The hope was to stay here in good faith and that she would remain in good health. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case.”
So she is headed to Virginia where she hopes to catch on somewhere with a program at any level.
“I have some contacts out there and you know me, I won’t be able to stay away too long,” Proudfoot said.
She will stay on board through June in order to help the Thunder with the annual fundamental camp.
“It will give me some more time with my girls,” she said. “I’ve already told them so the hard part is over.”
Proudfoot leaves behind quality personnel and with the program competing at a high level.
The Thunder went 25-7 this season before losing to eventual champion St. Mary’s in the Division I state quarterfinals.
In her four seasons, Desert Vista had a 75-39 record and that level of winning is expected to continue next season with then senior guard Kyle Butler, junior guard Emily Wolph, and sophomore post Kristine Anigwe leading the way.
The position will bring in quality applicants as the Thunder averaged 19.2 wins per season over the last six.
“Somebody should call me and thank me,” Proudfoot kidded, knowing the program is in great shape for someone to take over. “It is so hard, but sometimes we have to put family first, and now is the time.