BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — As Ryan Donley takes the helm of the Anthony Wayne Generals baseball program, he can guarantee the players and parents one thing – he’ll bring the passion.
“I love Anthony Wayne and I love the sport of base-ball,” said Donley, who was named head coach during the October 11 AW board of education meeting.
Donley was one of eight applicants, and the most qualified for the position, said athletic director John Snyder.
“Ryan has a passion for not only coaching, but for Anthony Wayne Local Schools and our community,” Snyder said. “Ryan has a tremendous baseball IQ through his many years of training, playing and coaching.
“When you combine this knowledge with his positive attitude and fantastic rapport with students, it was a ‘no doubt’ hire. When you have an applicant who understands the games, has coaching experience, a great relationship with kids and also works in the school full time… that’s something that you do not pass up.”
The coaching position became open in August when Mark Nell announced his plans to step down from coaching after 21 years. It was an opportunity too good to pass up, Donley said. He consulted his wife Andrea, a teacher at Whitehouse Primary, and their 11-year-old daughter Maizy, a sixth-grader at Fallen Timbers Middle School.
“This was 100 percent a family decision,” he said. And for good reason, as he plans to continue as head wrestling coach.
The wrestling program is a “well-oiled machine” after his 16 years at the helm. Donley is also putting together a staff to help as he takes on baseball.
Head coaches who lead more than one sport are not uncommon, according to Snyder.
“If anyone is up to the challenge, it’s Ryan,” he said. “Coach Donley made it clear his passion for wrestling has gone nowhere and he has put too much time and effort into the kids and wrestling program to leave it on this type of timetable.”
Being a two-sport coach will also set an example for the young men in both programs. Like Nell, Donley encourages his athletes to get involved in more than one sport.
Donley grew up in East Toledo and was a three-sport athlete, participating in baseball, football and wrestling before graduating from Clay High School in 2000.
During his four-year baseball career at Indiana University, he played out-field and trained at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., earning the title of All-Star for three years.
In 2004, Donley played professionally for the Richmond Roosters, in the outfield and at third base.
He was hired by Anthony Wayne Schools in 2005 to teach physical education to grades 7-12 and began coaching wrestling that same year. He later began volunteering on Nell’s staff and coached the JV-B team for two seasons.
“I was fortunate to learn under Coach Nell. He is a tremendous baseball mind and has built a program that our school and community are extremely proud of,” Donley said. “I’m honored for the opportunity to add to our rich baseball tradition at Anthony Wayne.”
Players can expect Donley to work hard and bring the passion.
“I plan to give these young men an opportunity to learn life lessons through the sport,” he said. “We will have a ton of fun while playing an intense style of baseball. It’s important to me that our players are fundamentally sound, compete on every pitch and play the game the right way. I’m eager to get to work!”