The gym at Smith River Elementary School was packed on Monday with community members, parents and students, past and present. Everyone came together to help honor longtime coach Ron Quick, who is making waves nationally as one of 15 finalists for The Most Valuble Coach, which is awarded by US Cellular.

“It was absolutely incredible — the amount of support that Ron got,” said Smith River Elementary Principal Diane Cochran-Weise. “The whole gym was packed full of people, including students, parents, past students and community members. The band played and the cheerleaders were going to cheer, it was just really good.”

In addition to all the festivities, Cochran-Weise said one of her favorite parts of the event was a heartfelt letter written by Ron Quick’s former student Jimmy Ramirez, which was read to the assembly by Veda Alvarado.

“By the end of Jimmy’s speech, which Veda read, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” Cochran-Weise said.

Although Quick is starting to get some recognition on a national scale as part of U.S. Cellular’s competition, Smith River residents have known for a long time that they have a special coach.

A native of Crescent City, Quick has been a teacher at Smith River for 28 years and during that time has coached soccer, basketball and track for the sixth through eighth grade classes.

“He is one of those people who is an incredible relationship builder,” Cochran-Weise said. “Since he started about 30 years ago he has instilled in these kids the idea that they can do anything that they want to. The only thing that he wants from those kids back is for them to be the very best that they can be. He is such a man of character, integrity and high expectations. He is an incredible human being — I don’t know how else to put it.”

According to US Cellular, The Most Valuable Coach competition started with over 1,000 nominees and through online voting has been whittled down to 50 and now 15 finalists.

Monday’s pep rally was organized by US Cellular as a way to honor Quick for being one of the final 15 coaches. As one of the top finalists, US Cellular also presented Quick with a $5,000 check to Smith River.

Cochran-Weise said she isn’t yet sure how the money will be used, but it will definitely be spent to benefit the students.

“We are still talking,” she said. “Ron is going to have a huge say in it, and of course he is going back to the kids and asking them what they want.”

Voting continues

Quick has already secured $5,000 for Smith River by being named a finalist for The Most Valuable Coach award, but the voting is still ongoing to determine which schools will receive the remaining prizes and which coach will be named the Most Valuable Coach overall.

Voting reset once the 15 finalists were announced and will remain open until Nov. 13. Anyone is eligible to vote and may do so a maximum of one time per day at

Quick is currently in 14th place out of the 15 finalists, but is within half a percentage point of four of the other finalist coaches. The online vote will influence the overall winners, along with guest judges Maya Moore of the WNBA, and NFL wide receiver Randall Cobb.

The top three coaches will be announced on Nov. 20 and will receive additional donations of $50,000, $10,000, and $20,000 respectively for their schools. The first place coach will also earn their school a technology prize package.