Dick Trachok, an athlete, teacher, coach and administrator whose career spanned parts of nine decades and was dedicated to the betterment of the University of Nevada Athletics program, died Sunday, Aug. 2 in Reno, surrounded by his family.
He was 94.
Coach Trachok's involvement with Wolf Pack Athletics started with his days as a star halfback on the powerhouse Wolf Pack football teams of the 1940's. He served as the Wolf Pack's head coach from 1959-68 and then became the school's athletics director in 1969 until his retirement in 1986. He had served as athletics director emeritus since retiring, coming into the office nearly every day and rarely missing a football or basketball game.
“Dick Trachok will be remembered for his time as a member of the Wolf Pack’s nationally-ranked football teams of the late 1940s, as the Wolf Pack’s head football coach, and as one of the most influential athletic directors we have ever had,” said University President Marc Johnson. “As athletic director, Dick had a keen eye for talent, hiring several of athletics’ most notable head coaches, including Chris Ault, his former Wolf Pack quarterback and now a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He led the effort to complete one of the campus’ most ambitious capital projects in Lawlor Events Center. More than all of this, however, I believe Dick will be most remembered for the relationships he cultivated during the three quarters of a century that he was associated with our University. He coached, mentored and was a friend to so many of us. His passing marks the end of an era. But his influence on our institution will never leave us.”
Born Richard Matthew Trachok on December 27, 1925, the proud Pennsylvania native served in the United States Army Air Corps in World War II. Following the war, Trachok was recruited to play football at Nevada with his future teammate and lifelong friend, Tommy Kalminir. At Nevada he was a standout on the football team from 1946-48, helping the Wolf Pack to a 25-6 record. He played fullback and halfback and played in the first two bowl games in school history: the 1948 Salad Bowl in Phoenix and the 1949 Harbor Bowl in San Diego. Trachok was also a member of the track team and ran the quarter mile. It is said that he was never beaten in that event.
During college, Trachok became Bishop Manogue High School's first basketball coach. After graduation in 1949, he taught mathematics and coached football at Reno High School from 1949-58. The Desert News described Trachok as "one of Nevada's most successful high school gridiron coaches.” During his tenure, he led Reno to six state championships. Trachok became the head football coach at the University of Nevada in 1959, serving in that capacity for 10 seasons through 1968.
Trachok was named the director of athletics in 1969, taking over for his mentor and friend, Glenn "Jake" Lawlor, and served in that role until 1986. As athletics director, Coach Trachok presided over some of the most significant events in Wolf Pack Athletics history including the move to the Big Sky Conference in 1979, the first two NCAA appearances in the history of the Wolf Pack's men's basketball program, the 1979 AIAW Small College National Championship by the Wolf Pack women's swimming and diving Program, of which his daughter Cathy was a member, the construction of Lawlor Events Center and renovations of Mackay Stadium.
He was coach, athletic director, mentor and friend to Chris Ault, recruiting and hiring the future College Football Hall of Fame coach.
Said Ault in a statement on Sunday: “From the day he recruited me, six decades ago, until the very end, Dick Trachok always found time for me. I will remain eternally grateful for the opportunities and support he gave during my entire career at the University of Nevada. He was a good man friend who never lost his values – of course, his wife Fran had a hand in that. In his later years, he enjoyed spending part of his day visiting with athletic department staff and sharing stories of the good “ole” times. However, the signature piece of his life was his wife Fran and his loving family that will always cherish and honor his memory with a love and affection that will endure through eternity.”
Coach Trachok is credited with founding the Governor's Dinner in 1969, which has become one of the major fundraisers for the Wolf Pack Athletics Department, and the Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame in 1973. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975. Coach Trachok was named a member of the Wolf Pack Football's Team of the Century in 1998.
Trachok and his late wife, Fran were named Distinguished Nevadans in 2013, celebrating the contributions they have made to the University and State of Nevada over the course of their 67-year marriage. This honor is the most prestigious award conferred by the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education and is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the cultural, scientific and/or social advancement of Nevada.
Trachok's three children, Rick, Margo and Cathy, are all Nevada graduates, as are several of his grandchildren.