Ishida takes Tabor experience to HS administration

By Janae Rempel (g’10)

Ricky Ishida Tabor football

Ricky Ishida (g’06) never visited Hillsboro before leaving California to play football at Tabor College.

A three-year varsity quarterback at Shafter (Calif.) High School, Ishida left Bakersfield College for Tabor at a friend’s prompting.

After arriving in Kansas, Ishida led the Bluejays to three consecutive NAIA playoff appearances, including Tabor’s first postseason victory. But for his success on the field, Ishida says relationships left a lasting impact.

“Little did I know that the game of football (would be) just a small piece of my time at Tabor,” he says. “Coaches and teachers invested in me. That drew me to want to give back.”

A decorated career

The 2002 Shafter graduate earned all-league nods at quarterback and defensive back and received an offer from Tabor coach Tim McCarty. Ishida arrived on campus in 2003 and started game three after quarterback David Hernandez sustained an injury. Ishida led the Bluejays to the playoffs.

“Coach McCarty would have to kick me out of his office because I was always watching film,” he says. “I wanted to stay a step ahead.”

Under coach Mike Gardner, Tabor won KCAC titles in 2004 and 2005. In the 2004 KCAC championship—a double overtime win versus Bethel College—Ishida had six touchdowns. Tabor lost a first-round playoff game that year, and Ishida ranked 14th nationally in passing yards per game (211.4).

In 2005, after an undefeated KCAC campaign, the Bluejays defeated Graceland University, 17-14, to secure Tabor’s first postseason victory. Offensively, Ishida was 18-for-27 for 160 yards and one touchdown.

“It was a surreal moment that (could) only be put together by the Lord,” he says. “(It brought together) a lot of men from different walks of life. It was a collective effort.”

After a quarterfinal loss, Tabor ended the season ranked sixth in the NAIA. Ishida ranked 24th in offensive yards per game (206.3).

“Our theme was ‘One heartbeat,’” he says. “That is exactly what we were.”

The three-time, first-team All-KCAC quarterback claimed a host of school records in his career, including passing yards (6,647), completions (505), total offense (6,940), and passing touchdowns (46).

“I wish I could relive that time because it was so special,” he says.

Additional memories include his mother’s attendance at the Graceland game after his father died of cancer and proposing to his wife, Hailey, on the field before the 2005 homecoming game. The couple has two children, ages 14 and 11.

Behind the jersey

Beyond the gridiron, relationships influenced Ishida at Tabor. Ishida’s resident assistant gave him his first Bible, and he participated in team devotions, leading him to accept Christ.

“God put godly men in my life to see God’s light,” he says. “Going to Tabor was so life-changing for me. (I) saw the value in relationships and people and what God orchestrated in this small town called Hillsboro.”

Ishida graduated in 2006 with a degree in secondary education and returned to California. He has served in education since 2007, teaching at Shafter High, South High and Vista West Continuation High, and holding student behavior and support roles at Tierra Del Sol Continuation High School and Mira Monte High School. He earned his M.Ed. in educational leadership in 2011.

Ricky Ishida family

Ishida began serving as assistant principal of administration at Foothill High School in 2022, overseeing discipline, inter-district transfers, classified personnel, facilities and safety. He also coordinates positive behavior intervention and support.

“Working with students has been the best part about being an educator,” he says. “I can show my servant’s heart, my shining light from the Lord, by my actions and words.”

Ishida wants to have a similar impact as what he experienced at Tabor.

“The people at Tabor had servant hearts and wanted what’s best for you,” he says. “They knew you by name. It wasn’t about the extra-curricular activities. It was, ‘I’m going to see what’s behind that jersey.’”

Janae Rempel (g’10) serves as the associate editor of The Christian Leader, the USMB magazine.