SALINAS, Calif., — Jim Rear believes the word “hero” should be bestowed upon soldiers, veterans, police officers, firefighters and emergency responders. Not basketball coaches.
Yet as a coach for more than 30 years, Rear impacted countless lives, teaching basketball skills that translate easily into life skills.
“If, as a coach, I was able to teach the players about hard work, being helpful to others, accountability, being on time, discipline, being part of a team, and following instructions, then I feel very gratified,” he said. “All those things carry over to adulthood.”
Whether or not Rear quibbles with the word “hero,” Gil Basketball Academy will honor the longtime basketball coach at Alisal and Everett Alvarez high schools on Nov. 9, awarding him the first-ever Court Heroes Award at its 10th Anniversary Awards Banquet and Celebration (tickets and sponsorship opportunities available here).
“When you’re 15-16 years old, you don’t realize the impact a coach has on you until years down the road,” said GBA co-founder Jose Gil, who once played for Rear and serves as current Alisal High School Variety boys’ basketball coach and Athletic Director. “Coach always offered support on and off the court in order for us to achieve our desired goals. But what had the most lasting impression on me, as I got older, is the fact that the discipline he instilled in us. Ironically, Coach Rear somehow knew that his tough love would help us overcome obstacles in life to make us successful. This resilience is what got me through life.”
Rear had great success on the basketball coach, winning multiple championships, but he remembers most the relationships he’s developed with his former players over the years.
“Getting invited to weddings, birthday parties (theirs and their children’s), college graduations, being called when they became parents, and having them stop by the house to say hello,” said the 70-year-old Rear, who is now retired and lives in Salinas.
Rear’s greatest on-court success came at Alisal High School, where he maintained a strong basketball tradition. His teams won eight league titles from 1983-1997, reaching the Central Coast Section playoffs 17 times, and advancing to the finals or semifinals seven times.
Rear was chosen league Coach of the Year nine times and Monterey County Coach of the Year six times. During his 21 years at Alisal and seven at Alvarez, Rear compiled 394 wins. He was selected to the Gatorade Coaches Care National Honor Roll in 1995 and was among the first to be inducted into the Alisal High Hall of Fame. Additionally, Rear is a 2017 inductee into the Salinas Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
Rear stepped away from coaching in 2004 due to complications from a back injury, but he remains in touch with many of his former players.
“Some of them are my best friends,” Rear said.
Following his coaching career, Rear remained committed to his community, serving as: past president and board member, for 25 years, of the California Coaches Association; past president of Salinas Police Activities League; past president of Salinas Steinbeck Rotary Club; past member of the Salinas Parks/Recreation Commission.
In 2015 he retired, after 25 years, as the executive director of the Sunrise House, a youth/family counseling and crisis center for alcohol- and drug-related issues.
Never seeking accolades, Rear has mixed emotions about winning the Heroes Award.
“I’m very humbled,” he said. “There are so many other deserving individuals. It’s such a huge honor to receive.”
Rear’s award fits perfectly within the philosophy of Gil Basketball Academy. Co-founded by former Rear player, and current Alisal High School boys basketball coach Jose Gil, GBA celebrates 10 years teaching local youth not only the principles of the sport, but the tenets of resiliency, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and family. “All while having fun,” Gil said.
Rear, of course, has supported GBA, serving on the board since its inception. Gil is the first one to realize how much he and other players owe to Rear as a positive influence in their lives.
“He’s been a fixture in our community because he’s a great human being,” Gil said.