Tom Ryan decided now was the right time to step away from the job he loves. After 15 seasons, Ryan officially resigned from his position as head coach of the Radnor football team Tuesday.
It was a move he had been considering since Radnor ended its 2021 season with a victory in the 125th Radnor-Lower Merion game Nov. 6.
“I had 15 great years coaching a lot of great kids,” Ryan said. “I just felt it was time to make a little bit of a change, step away from it for a little bit and give someone else the chance to be a high school head coach at a great place. … This isn’t just that I woke up one day, I’ve been thinking about it for a little while and felt this was the right time for me to step away. I’m more than likely going to take a whole year off and then maybe go back in some capacity at Radnor … wherever they might need me down the road. We’ll see what the future holds.”
Ryan informed his players before the holiday break that he would be stepping down. The resignation was officially accepted by athletic director Mike Friel on Tuesday.
“I coached a lot of great people, a lot of great kids. There’s no hard feelings leaving, I just thought that it was time, that’s all,” Ryan said.
A former football standout at Upper Darby High and West Chester University, Ryan, 54, was an assistant coach at both of his alma maters before coming to Radnor and taking over the football reins there in 2007. He has been a health and physical education teacher at the high school throughout his time as head coach and will continue in that role going forward.
“He has been a total rock star for us, both for our school and our football program,” Friel said. “He became my first friend coming to Radnor (in 2010). He’s just done so many good things for our kids and basically for our entire community as our football coach. That part is going to be tough to replace.
“What he really busted his hump on was getting our kids into college to play football. It would be like Grand Central Station here with college coaches. That’s something he always took great pride in.”
Even when Radnor wasn’t winning a lot of games, Ryan molded several talented players who would move on to play at the next level. The list of Division I and Division I-AA college players who Ryan coached at Radnor includes Johnathan Coleman and Dave Bowen (Boston College), Colin Bradley (Lafayette), Anthony Laudicina (Buffalo), Alex Anderson (Penn) and Mike Staples (Cornell).
“The kids did all of the work, both in the classroom and on the field. But it is something I’m proud of that so many kids, whether it’s D-III or D-I, had the passion to play at the next level,” Ryan said. “Whatever help I had along the way, I’m proud of that. I still keep in touch with so many of those guys, too. It makes you feel good, honestly. Of course you want to win football games and that’s one of the reasons you sign up for it, but when you have those individual successes and you can help the kids in some capacity, there’s a lot to be grateful for that experience.”
As one of the smaller programs in the Central League, Ryan eventually turned around a team that had endured several losing seasons. In 2015, Radnor posted a 7-4 record, the program’s first winning season in 13 seasons. Three years later, Ryan guided Radnor to a 9-3 record and its first PIAA District 1 playoff victory. It was the best season for Radnor football in over 40 years. Ryan’s teams won a total of 39 games and made four district playoff appearances since 2015. In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Radnor went 4-2 and placed fifth in the Central League. The Raptors finished 3-8 in what was a rebuilding season for the program in 2022.
Ryan steps down as one of the most respected and likable coaches in Delaware County.
“It’s an exciting time for me,” he said. “I’m going to sit back and re-evaluate some things and just see what the next phase is. I’ve still got a few years of teaching left and I’m just looking forward to seeing what’s next.”