Local News

DHS counselor Ochs taught self-confidence in his students

By From page A1 | August 24, 2014

Paul Ochs1W

Paul Ochs, 74, is a longtime counselor and girls tennis coach at Davis High School. He will be inducted next month into the DHS Hall of Fame. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo


What: Davis High School Hall of Fame induction dinner for Doug Arnold, Rachel Moore, Paul Ochs, Marcy Place Sheehan and Wanda Winton

When: 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13

Where: ARC Ballroom, UC Davis

Tickets: $65 per person, or a table of 10 may be reserved for a $1,000 sponsorship; in addition, locals are asked to thank a teacher by donating the cost of a ticket

RSVPs: Due Sept. 6; visit www.dhsblueandwhite.org or call 530-681-5020

If Paul Ochs were to pore over the names in the Davis High School Hall of Fame, he’d be reading about “kids” he helped mentor, administrators he worked with and contributors to local public education whom he helped guide through the system.

From 1971 until his “retirement” several years ago, Ochs was a counselor and coach at DHS, a pillar of stability, someone upon whom everyone could lean.

Ochs, soon to be inducted into the DHS shrine, took some time from his semi-leisurely schedule to talk about his five-plus decades in local schools and what this recent honor means.

“Well, when I found out, it left me speechless,” the 74-year-old Davis resident says of his induction. “It is overwhelming to be recognized and honored this way.

“But when you look at today’s Davis High students compared to those 40 years ago … there’s really not much difference. They’re still respectful. They are smart and they set goals and achieve.

“One thing, I’d say the students work harder today than they did 20, 30, 40 years ago. But it’s a competitive world out there. They have to (work harder).”

Ochs — no stranger to hard work himself as a local counselor and girls tennis coach — joins Olympic athlete Marcy Place Sheehan, community volunteer Wanda Winton, school graduate and benefactor Doug Arnold and former Blue Devil Rachel Moore, who is chief executive officer of the American Theatre Ballet, in the seventh Davis High School Hall of Fame class.

The induction ceremony will be Saturday, Sept. 13, at the ARC Ballroom on campus at UC Davis. Festivities begin at 6 p.m.

Bay Area native Ochs and his wife Mary Anne briefly lived in Oregon while finishing up counseling school. A stop in Galt in 1969 led to the Davis position two years later.

Ochs’ 33 years of coaching girls tennis yielded almost 600 match victories, 28 league crowns and five Sac-Joaquin Section titles.

He believes prep athletics — coaches and athletes included — changed little over the years. Outside influences are greater on coaches, he says, and pressure to perform “comes from a lot of different places now. It’s not just the athlete and his or her coach.”

“Fundamentally, though, the high school athletic world is the same as it ever was,” Ochs reports, but quickly adds: “I think my style changed over the years. As a coach, I’d be disappointed if I didn’t get better every year.

“With each generation, I became more focused on teaching self-confidence. The most important thing I could do as a coach was, when players left our program, they had a better understanding of themselves, better confidence and that they were more accepting (of others).”

On the court and in the counseling office, Ochs said his goal was the same.

But Ochs retired from DHS about 10 years ago and hung up his tennis clipboard in 2010.

His wife Mary Anne has been the “anchor” in his life — and with the couple’s new-found leisure time, retirement has been “a real blast.”

“We love spending time with the grandkids. We travel. I took up golf about 15 years ago. It’s been great.”

Mary Anne and Paul have two daughters — Margo and Melanie. Margo lives in Manhattan Beach and recently married Mike Svilicich. Melanie and Bill Brinkman are Lafayette residents who have the Ochses’ grandchildren (Alana and Brady).

“We spend as much time as we can with our family,” the soon-to-be Hall of Famer explains. “But the other activity has been great, too.”

The Ochses have made trips to Peru, China, Africa, a Paris-to-Prague river cruise and a trip down the Amazon.

Ochs tries to find time for golf on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Despite all the diversions, he says the best times come when former students remember him, “stop me and say ‘hi’ … and tell me all about their lives.”

“Like I said before, the basic core of kids at Davis High hasn’t changed that much. Quality people then, quality people coming out now,” Ochs says with a smile.

It’s a tradition that Paul Ochs helped build and maintain.

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.

Bruce Gallaudet

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