When living in a small community like Cassville, people often get to know everything about you - your history, your family and your life. Yet, sometimes there are those, like Cassville Coach Darren Rhea, who in their humility, like to keep their accomplishments quiet.
At 6'10," Rhea, science teacher and eighth grade basketball coach at Cassville Middle School, is not easily hidden in his surroundings but part of his past athletic career remains a mystery to many.
Even the sports reporter at the Cassville Democrat (that would be me), despite having been a student under Rhea, had not realized the extent of his experiences.
This past week, Rhea was inducted into the Hall of Fame at North Arkansas College where he played basketball his sophomore year. He was a great asset to the team there, averaging 25 points per game and about 15 rebounds per game.
His greatest attribute as a player was his versatility on the court. Able to muscle inside and fight for the boards and close baskets, Rhea could also step back and take the jumper. He could even shoot the three ball.
In fact, he still holds the record at Texas A&M, where he later went on to play, for the highest three-point shot percentage at 48. During his year at North Arkansas College, located in Harrison, he was named to the All-Conference team.
Cassville varsity boys basketball coach Randy Robertson just happened to witness the middle school coach when he played in high school. Rhea was a member of the Appleton City squad, where his father coached. Robertson recalls seeing Rhea in the state play-offs.
"I saw him play one time his junior year in the first round of the state tournament," said Robertson, "He and his team played a very good first half."
Unfortunately, Rhea's team would go on to lose that game, but Rhea would ultimately have a successful career there as well as in college. Coach Robertson recently shared his personal thoughts on Rhea's basketball skills with his current players.
As stated before, Rhea went on to Texas A&M after North Arkansas. While at A& M, he was also named to the Southwest Conference All-Academic team.
Rhea was one of 24 inductees into North Arkansas' Hall of fame. For the past 15 years, Rhea has been teaching and coaching with 11 of those years spent at Cassville. He resides in Cassville with wife, Shari, and two sons, Kristopher and Kyle.