Canon-McMillan basketball coach Rick Bell retires after 31 years

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 | 8:26 AM

Canon-McMillan reached the WPIAL Class 6A basketball semifinals for the first time in 2019.

Now the school is looking for a new coach after Rick Bell, who coached the Big Macs for the past 18 years, has decided to retire.

Bell, 54, said wanting to watch his son, R.J., play his final two seasons at Geneva was one of the reasons he decided to step away from coaching at this time.

“It was a hard decision,” Bell said. “R.J. told me ‘I don’t want to be the reason you quit.’ But I’ll never get that back if I miss him playing. I already missed games when he was younger.

“I always tried to be there for both of my children. I thought I couldn’t be a dad and still running basketball practices.”

Bell compiled a 428-316 record during his 31 years as a coach, the first 13 at Peters Township where he was 223-103.

“Rick runs one of the best programs, from top to bottom, that I have been around,” said Frank Vulcano, Jr., Canon-McMillan’s athletic director. “In my five years at Canon-McMillan, Rick has taken this program to heights that have never been seen in school history.

“He has been a great mentor to all of his assistants and a great role model to his players throughout his years.”

Under Bell, Canon-McMillan set a single-season record of 21 wins in the 2017-2018 season.

He helped rebuild two struggling programs.

“I have a great situation at Canon-McMillan,” Bell said. “It would be hard to recreate it here. I was the youngest coach when I started at Peters. Wrestling is still king at Canon-McMillan, but we made basketball matter at both schools.”

In the past five seasons, the Big Macs compiled a 74-45 record and qualified for the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs three times.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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