SAN BERNARDINO – The score was 24-15 in the second set and the Richardson Prep Hi Middle School boys’ volleyball team was one point from victory.
Coach C.R. Tetlock nervously checked with the scorer’s table. The ball was served. And a Richardson player rose from the hardwood and spiked one home for the win.
The jubilant Tigers dissolved into a happy, dancing scrum.
Final score: Richardson Prep Hi defeated Cesar Chavez Middle School 25-9, 25-15 Thursday, Oct. 7, for the school’s (and coach’s) sixth consecutive city title.
But there was no time to waste. Tetlock herded his players into a straight line in front of the net for a post-match ceremony. Then he consoled an outstanding Chavez player before shaking the hands of all his players who made his final match such a success.
Not only was this Tetlock’s final hurrah, but the longtime Highland resident, his educator wife Pamela and his sister Jo Ann – who also led a Richardson team (the girls) to a title Thursday night -- are all retiring from education in the spring.
Think about that: Three teachers, all with the same last name, all at the same school, all of them uber involved with students for decades, retiring simultaneously. It happens, well, almost never.
Said Chavez boys’ volleyball coach Lawrence Quenga to the hundreds in attendance at Cajon High, “I believe this is Mr. C.R. Tetlock’s last game coaching, so can we give him a round of applause? I have not met a better coach, nor a better man than C.R..”
Asked to explain that statement, Quenga said, “Every interaction you have with C.R. is a positive one. The Tetlocks have a motto, to always have a positive impact. Jo Ann is hard-nosed, but nobody has a bigger heart for the kids.”
And the plaudits continued to flow.
“Mr. Tetlock has been a big influence for a lot of kids in the district, including my own,” said Cajon High athletic director Rich Imbriani to the hundreds in attendance. “I can’t say enough about someone who is retiring after 39 years with the district.”
Not to be forgotten is C.R.’s wife Pamela, who kept score at Thursday night’s matches. She and C.R. met while teaching at Golden Valley Middle School. Pamela has been at Richardson for 24 years, serving as math department chairperson, as well as a seventh-grade team leader, Associated Student Body advisor, scorekeeper for Richardson athletics and occasional coach. She even coached cheerleading for a while.
“She took the girls’ soccer team one year and won every game,” C.R. said with a laugh. “She’s got a better record than me.”
Well, almost. Last week’s volleyball title was C.R.’s 45th city championship.
C.R. (the initials stand for Charles Robert) for the past 36 years has been the only middle school athletic coordinator the San Bernardino City Unified School District has known.
“In other words,” said Highland resident and former Golden Valley teacher and coach Jim McGarry, “if it wasn’t for C.R. Tetlock, middle school sports would not exist in our district.”
So without further ado, let’s take a look at each retiring educator:
--C.R. Tetlock: A native of Marysville, Mich., C.R. came to the West Coast because veteran teachers in the Midwest were getting laid off.
He’s taught and coached in the district for nearly four decades, beginning at Golden Valley and moving to Richardson 10 years ago where he is a resource teacher, website designer, newsletter editor, and physical educational instructor … when he’s not coaching or running a district-wide athletic program, that is.
C.R. quotation on whether kids have changed: “Their mindset has changed. They learn in different ways. The old-school way of ‘drill and kill’ doesn’t get their attention anymore. As a teacher, you have to be more entertaining and creative.”
--Jo Ann Tetlock: A softball catcher at Central Michigan University, C.R.’s sister was recently inducted into Central Michigan’s athletic Hall of Fame. She’s taught and coached in the district since 1984, first at Serrano Middle School, then at San Gorgonio High for 18 years before landing at Richardson.
Jo Ann quotation on what sports provide: “How to have self-discipline and confidence. The kids need a lot of guidance and you have to encourage and not discourage.”
--Pamela Tetlock: C.R.’s wife and a graduate of Miami of Ohio University, Pamela has earned the district’s Golden Apple, Crystal Apple and Spotlight of Hope teaching awards. And in spring 2020, C.R. and Pamela Tetlock nabbed the prestigious Downtown Rotary Club Character in Education Award – the only married couple to do so.
Pamela on what kids need: “They respond to praise. They need positive encouragement if they’re going to rise to the level you expect – whether it’s to win a game or take a state test.”
While Jo Ann will move back to the Midwest, it’s uncertain what the future holds for C.R. and Pamela, but one thing is for certain:
“All three are special,” Cajon’s Imbriani said. “When they leave it will be very hard for the district to fill the void.”