For nearly four decades, Richard Valdez served as a coach, teacher, counselor and administrator at Tooele High School.
Last Friday, Valdez’s dedication to Tooele High and its athletic program earned him a spot in the Utah Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s Hall of Fame at the UIAAA’s annual banquet in St. George.
Valdez, a 1971 graduate of Tooele High, began his teaching career in March 1977 at Grantsville High before moving to his alma mater the following fall. He became an assistant coach for the Buffaloes’ baseball, football and wrestling programs, and was an assistant to head coach Paul Dart when Tooele won its first — and only — wrestling state championship in 1981.
Valdez went on to become the school’s head wrestling coach in in 1988 and led the Buffs to seven region championships in 12 seasons.
In 2002, he was named Tooele High’s athletic director, serving in that capacity for 10 years. Afterward, he was inducted into the THS Wall of Fame in 2013.
Valdez, a volunteer firefighter for the Tooele City Fire Department for 39 years, also served as the Utah editor for Wrestling USA Magazine for 20 years.
He wasn’t the only honoree at the banquet with Tooele ties. Deb Bennett, who started at Tooele High with Valdez in the fall of 1977, received Athletic Director of the Year honors. Bennett, who is the women’s athletic director at Skyline High School in Salt Lake County, is in her 31st year, having coached basketball, softball, tennis, volleyball, gymnastics, track and golf in her career. She won two state titles as the head girls basketball coach at Skyline.
On Tuesday night at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City, another Tooele High graduate was honored. Glen Partridge, who coached Delta and North Sevier high schools to a combined seven consecutive boys track and field state championships from 1973-79, was honored as a Distinguished Coach by the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Foundation at its Spring Honors and Awards Banquet.
Partridge was a part of 20 state championship teams as either an assistant coach or head coach during his career at Delta, North Sevier and Panguitch.