John "Blackie" O'Brien
Blackie graduated from RLHS in 1935 as a three-sport star in football, basketball and track. O’Brien’s lifetime career in education and sports was launched at UW-Madison where he graduated in 1939. He is one of only 2 athletes from Rice Lake to have been a 3-year major letter winner in football for the Badgers. He played both ways and was called the “Watch Charm Guard of the Big Ten”. In addition to playing football for the Badgers, Blackie was also on the university boxing team. After his college career, he taught and was line coach at Chippewa Falls. In 1948 he returned to Wisconsin to teach and coach at Ladysmith for 13 years. In 1961 he went to the Barron County Teachers College in Rice Lake and then on to Stout State University in Rice Lake. While at the campus, he coached basketball for 8 years in addition to coaching baseball and golf. He served the campus as Athletic Director from 1961 to 1980 when he retired as a professor.