Interviews with Ripon College Coaches
Ryan Kane is Athletic Director and men’s basketball head coach at Ripon College. This blog addresses remarks made by Coach Kane regarding his leadership roles on and off the court. Questions for the interview were prepared by Elliott Holt, Esteban Borja Pena, Clark Cunningham, Jaylen Mahone, and Jacob Zuehlke, all members of the Ripon College Business Leadership course in the fall semester of 2021.
What drives you and keeps you motivated year after year?
This one is pretty easy. When I was in the corporate world I worked in, more or less sales, the year would end at the end of every fiscal year. After that, you would start over. Management would say, “OK, here’s your new goal. Go out and get it.” It would sound so monotonous. It was as if to get the same people and the same clients to get more from them. Maybe we would try to grow and get a few more clients. That was kind of what my life was like in the corporate world and I desperately hated that. It was a continuous cycle where the game doesn’t change. That’s not to say that it’s much different in the coaching world. In every year it’s recruit, recruit, recruit, get your players, get your posts – but every year has a different story and that is what I love about it. Every year, you see, there is just a different attitude, a different vibe with every team. Team one through team ten, they all have their own story. They all have their own identity and that for me is really fun to see. The individual progressions and then to see within a given year how a team starts and how they finish and their general dynamics as a team is not just what kids can tangibly achieve. I think those things really keep me going. No question year in and year out, that is for sure.
Interview by: Abby Gilbertson, Jinjin Han, Lily Kopplin, Kara Vande Brink, Skyylar Brescia, & Zoe Hazel
Front Row Kneeling L-R: Jack Christ, Lily Kopplin, Abby Gilbertson. Back Row Standing L-R: Jinjin Han, Elaine Coll, Skylar Brescia, Zoe Hazel, Kara Vande Brink
Imagine being one of the first people to overcome the gender barrier in college athletics. Elaine Coll was the founder of the modern-day women’s intercollegiate athletic program at Ripon College. She began her career at Ripon in 1973, just a year after Title IX was put into effect, governing intercollegiate athletic programs for women.
When asked about her adolescence, Coach Coll described herself as a tomboy because she always wanted to be around sports:
I don’t know if anybody remembers tomboys and so I liked to hang around the little league field, you know and see if I could get anybody to show up and we could play ball or something. So I always liked sports. I wanted to be able to play, but there was no place to play.
Rick Coles is in his 23rd year as a faculty member and coach for Ripon College’s football program, where he currently serves as the team’s offensive line coach. He served as the team's offensive coordinator for 16 years from 2004-2019. He also serves as Ripon College’s Pieper Chair of Servant Leadership. Below is an interview with Coach Coles that addresses leadership behavior beyond the X’s and O’s. The interview was conducted and edited by Mickey Babjak, Erik Frafjord, Daniel Garcia, Reece Schreckengust, and Zach Gustafson, all members of the Ripon College Business Leadership course in the fall semester of 2021.
Please summarize your own personal story from adolescence to your career as a leader. How did you first decide that you could be an effective leader?
Well . . . I don’t really know how to answer that. My personal story as a leader...you know I’ve been involved in organized athletics since 7th grade, and I probably led by example, maybe a little verbally through that. I think sometimes circumstances put you in a position where you either have to become a leader or you don’t stay in those circumstances; and I think coaching and teaching are a couple of those circumstances. I don’t know if I am considered by others as a leader or not, I just . . . I do me and you know . . . I think that some people anyway look at me as someone that leads, but I think the circumstances of my life are what put me in a position of leadership.