Problems aren't personal but relevant: Ronan resigns
Published: Thursday, February 18, 2010
Updated: Thursday, May 12, 2011 14:05
Former tennis player and sophomore Steve D'Angelo quit the team after last season because of head tennis coach Eric Ronan's coaching style, and he wonders why he still has a job. At the end of the season, he won't.Ronan announced his resignation Tuesday in hopes of giving the athletic department an ample amount of time to consider a new coach to fill the position.
He said he wasn't able to handle all of his responsibilities as head coach and tennis instructor at the Boardman Tennis Center, where he works as a pro and manager.
"With me working two jobs, I told [Trevor Parks] it's just been too difficult to do both programs. But I just felt it was best for the program," Ronan said.
He said the job required him to recruit in the evenings, which is also when he's working at the tennis center.
Youngstown State University Athletic Director Ron Strollo said the extra time he spends with players is what he'll be remembered for.
"Coach Ronan has spent countless hours making sure our student-athletes have had a quality experience here at Youngstown State. Eric himself was a former student-athlete at YSU, so I know he took great pride in leading the program," Strollo said. "We are thankful for his all-around efforts during his tenure and wish him nothing but the best in his future."
But D'Angelo isn't the only player who questioned his authority. At the end of the 2009 season, two other members of the team speculated on whether they would return this year.
YSU tennis standout Michael Kathary and Robert Emig also left the team. All of them were playing on scholarship. D'Angelo said since leaving the team after last season, Emig has rejoined, looking to improve upon a respectable spring 2009 season.
"It's not a personal problem with [Ronan]. He's a nice guy, that's why he's been around for so long, but he absolutely is not able to coach at the college level," D'Angelo said. "It's just that [Ronan] treats you like a child. He doesn't stand up for his players. He doesn't get you better [during] practices, [and] it's just to the point where he'll say something to the [players], and [they] will do the opposite just to spite him," D'Angelo said.
Ronan said there haven't been any signs of disrespect from the players remaining on the team.
Sophomore Tariq Ismail is the team's No. 1 singles and doubles player, and as the team leader, he said those guys "quitting was just them not wanting to work."
While Ismail recognized their lack of perseverance, he said it was largely because of Ronan's coaching technique.
"I blame fault with both of them. [Ronan] did recruit them, too. Here [we] want to work, and sure enough, they gave him problems, and he tried to deal with them, and they ended up quitting. That's how it goes," Ismail said.
Since then, Ronan has had a lot on his plate.
"I actually have to get in a car, leave the tennis center, go pick them up because none of the players drive . [and] it makes for a long day," Ronan said.
Ismail said he witnesses firsthand how hard Ronan works on and off the court, but questions whether or not it's enough.
"[Ronan] tries, he tries hard, [and] he does what he can, but he's just maybe not that capable of doing it, but he tries . I go to him and say there's stuff wrong, and he tries to change, but maybe it's too late," Ismail said.
Ronan also has one of the lowest paid salaries of all head coaches. His 12-month base full-time salary is $24,369, and Ismail said he thinks the athletic department could also be blamed.
"It's not even really [Ronan's] fault. The athletic department pays him absolute garbage," Ismail said. "[Ronan] has to drive us to practice . we have to drive to matches about five [or] six hours away every weekend, and he's the only guy [coaching] a whole program."
But the numbers don't lie, and since Ronan joined the YSU staff in October 2000, the men's tennis team hasn't had one winning season.
Last year, they finished 5-16. Prior to that, they ended 2-12, and in 2007, they had an overall record of 5-12. Their best record under Ronan came in 2005 after finishing 8-10, and so far this season, they are 0-5 and have been outscored 29-6.
D'Angelo said his lack of success isn't the only problem Ronan endures. His recruiting skills aren't those of a collegiate level coach either, he added.
"Of the people on the roster right now, he recruited one of them. The number six player on the team is a 300-pound walk-on [Ronan] grabbed off the street, just so we could have enough people," D'Angelo said.
Ismail agreed with D'Angelo and said recruiting isn't Ronan's forte, and because of that, "we're stuck with probably a winless season, maybe one or two wins max."
The two players Ronan recruited to fill the roster are senior Matt McElroy and freshman Felipe Rosa.
This wasn't the only occasion McElroy had been approached by Ronan. McElroy said he declined his first offer because he was too busy as a Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy student pursuing a combined bachelor of science and doctor of medicine degree. He accepted the second offer because he didn't have the full workload.
"I'm really just filling in a spot on the roster this season so Eric can recruit some new talent for next year," McElroy said.
Ronan said he didn't recruit him as a last resort, and has been pleased with his play this season.
"[McElroy was] in his last semester of NEOUCOM, and he didn't have the full schedule that he's had in the past . so I asked him if he would like to be on the team, and he said yes . he was able to help us out, and I greatly appreciate it," Ronan said.
But D'Angelo said he doesn't think the future of the team is clear unless some dramatic changes are made.