Taylor Athletics Mourns the Passing of Rick Atkinson
UPLAND, Ind. – The Taylor University Athletics Department is grieving the loss of Hall-of-Famer Rick Atkinson, who passed away on Tuesday, February 23 after a battle with cancer. Coach A had served as an assistant coach for the TU baseball program for the past 16 years and spent 18 total years on staff with the Trojans.
“It is impossible to put into words what Coach A has meant to Taylor baseball,” said TU head coach and Athletics Director, Kyle Gould. “His unmatched love of the game of baseball was surpassed only by his passion for the players he coached.”
“I am forever indebted to him for the two years he was my coach, the 16 years we spent coaching together and for the investment he made in my life,” added Gould. “He was a daily example of what it means to be a man and he will be missed by all of us who were blessed enough to share a dugout with him.”
Those words were echoed by a pair of former TU baseball players who competed under Coach Atkinson.
“On and off the baseball diamond, Coach A was one of the kindest and most humble servant leaders,” shared 2012 Taylor graduate Rhett Goodmiller. “He had a passion for the game of baseball and the numerous life lessons it taught. He was a mentor of mine and to so many others, and his lasting legacy will continue to impact others for years to come.”
Michael Kraynak, a 2010 Taylor graduate added, “Coach Atkinson had such a great impact on so many people during his time at Taylor. His knowledge and love of the game of baseball were second to none, but his impact on our lives went far beyond the field. He was committed to helping his players grow as men of character. Anyone who knew Coach A knew how much he loved his family and he made sure we knew that too. He consistently modeled Godly character in his family and personal life and that is an example that so many of us carry with us to this day. He left a legacy that will last forever at Taylor University and we will greatly miss him.”
Atkinson was inducted into the Taylor University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019 for his accomplishments as a TU student-athlete, professional baseball player, coach, administrator, teacher and active community member. Atkinson is also a member of the Grant County and Indiana High School Baseball Hall of Fames.
During his collegiate playing career, Atkinson helped the Trojans to three-straight conference championships in 1966, 1967 and 1968. After completing his time on the diamond with TU and Greenville College, Atkinson signed to play professionally for the Atlanta Braves franchise.
Following the conclusion of his playing career, Atkinson spent 38 years in education with Eastbrook High School and Mississinewa High School, while also serving 24 years as the Mississinewa Athletics Director and 20 years as the Indians’ baseball coach.
Atkinson was a beloved member of the Taylor campus and surrounding communities and is survived by his wife, Sondra, three children and eight grandchildren.