BTHS Athletic Director Set To Retire

Rich Handchen (Courtesy of Rich Handchen)

BRICK – Rick Handchen, Brick Township High School athletics director, will retire February 1. His retirement was approved by the Brick Township Board of Education last May.

Handchen, a former Brick Township High School athlete, was the Green Dragons’ athletic director for six years. The school won several championships in football, ice hockey and girls bowling during his tenure. In 2015-16 the Green Dragons won the Shore Conference Class A South Sportsmanship Award.

“I am very proud of that award,” Handchen said. “I would just like to be remembered for doing the job the right way–being fair. I hope I will be known as someone who was fair to all of coaches and all of the programs. I hope the athletics program is better now than when I started here.”

The East gym at Brick, the Harold (Hank) Handchen Gymnasium, will receive a new floor and new bleachers. It was dedicated in Handchen’s honor in 1982.

“It has been in bad shape for a while,” Handchen said. “I am looking forward to seeing the gym repaired before I retire.”

Brick Township High School (Photo courtesy of Daniel Nee, Brick ShoreBeat)

Handchen, a 1977 Brick graduate, played four years of varsity golf, three seasons of varsity boys soccer and two years of varsity ice hockey. He played golf each season under his father, Harold, the former Brick athletic director who died in 2006, His dad was the first athletics director in school history (1958-82).

Young Handchen won the individual Ocean County Tournament golf title in 1977, leading the Green Dragons to the team crown. Brick won the Class A South golf championship during his junior and senior seasons.

“My game is as good–if not better–than it was when I was playing in high school,” he said.

Handchen graduated from Elon College (N.C.) with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education and earned his master’s degree in sports administration from Montclair State University. He received a supervisory certificate from New Jersey City State University. He played golf and soccer at Elon.

Handchen coached golf at Point Pleasant Beach and Brick Memorial. He coached boys and girls soccer as an assistant with the Green Dragons and was the head ice hockey coach at Brick Memorial. With Handchen at the helm, the Mustangs lost to the Green Dragons in the championship game of the NJSIAA Public School Ice Hockey Tournament in the late 1990s.

“I have always liked North Carolina,” he said. “When I graduated from Elon, there were not a lot of teaching openings in physical education,” he said. “If there were, I would have stayed down there. I knew if I came back here I could obtain a job between my dad and Warren Wolf (then the deputy superintendent of schools in the Brick Township School District).

When Handchen retires, it mark the end of 30 1/2 years of employment by the district.

“What I would like to do down there is either start coaching golf or work for one of the universities like Duke, North Carolina State or North Carolina in athletics,” he said. “I have been thinking about working part time for a big university. I don’t know the capacity. I want to be involved with athletics as athletics has been my life.

“I am looking forward to retiring. I have enjoyed my time here, but I am just looking forward to moving south and either working if I want to work or playing golf if I want to play golf. It’s nice to have a choice. I was more or less waiting for Ashleigh to finish college.”

Handchen and his family will move to Pinehurst, N.C., a golf haven. The family’s home is near the Pinehurst Country Club.

“From my house to the main clubhouse, it is about three-tenths of a mile,” said Handchen, a four-handicapper who plans to play in tournaments down south. “We got a good deal considering the location. We got lucky.”

Handchen, 57, said his family has owned property in North Carolina for 16 years. Construction of a two-story, three-bedroom, 3 1/2 bathroom house began last year.

“It’s 2,900 square feet,” he said. “We will have plenty of room. I am sure a lot of my friends who play golf will visit me a lot. It’s my last house and I want to have something I really like. It’s a nice house with a nice setting. It’s a good way to head off into the sunset.”

Handchen’s daughter, Ashleigh, a Red Bank Catholic graduate, will receive her diploma from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in May. She competes on the 49ers’ women’s cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field teams. She has obtained an internship at a Charlotte health rehabilitation facility.