By Lenny Sementi
You could say Tuscola athletic director Ryan Hornaday has a rooted interest in the athletic program at good old Tuscola Community High School. He’s been part of it since 1993-94 when he was a freshman donning Warrior Uniforms. The Leader of the Tribe bleeds black and gold and beams with pride when it’s mentioned, and for that matter so does his family. Wife Tracy, daughter Hannah, and sons Ben and David jump in to help and sacrifice time with him, eating dinner more than a few nights without him due to the duties of being the school’s athletic director. Especially in the spring when weather cancellations and rescheduling force him to creep deep into the night in his office at school. Adding this years shut down into the mix and it’s not only the time constraint it’s also the tug on the heart strings of athletes that can’t compete.
Ryan’s moral standing and integrity is above and beyond most and stands for all that is right about high school sports. He marries our schools academic, spiritual and athletic worlds together in his pursuit of bettering our student athletes and pushing them towards bigger and better things. This is done a lot of times in lieu of his own children’s activities. He consistently brings back our alumni for special events honoring teams or accomplishments and also promotes those that are currently playing at the college level.
Ryan is a glass half full type of guy with a positive outlook when negative things arise and is a great go between for parents, teachers, administrators and coaches. He is always impartial and goes the direction that in the end is for the betterment of all involved. Coach Hornaday leads a successful department that has produced numerous state trophies all the while also promoting service programs off the field. It is his attempt to secure as many IHSA events as possible even when it causes more work for himself in order to give our kids the best opportunity to be successful in the postseason and give our community the chance to embrace IHSA competition.
He is also the head boy’s track coach making the months from January through June even busier for the father of three. Last Friday Ryan joined with his family at the track for an emotional lighting of the oval in honor of his seniors.
“Obviously it’s been frustrating and disappointing,” stated Hornaday. “It’s surreal. Each time I did mass cancellations (three weeks at a time) I remember thinking it would be the last time. Last week it was pretty depressing to cancel everything for the year. I hate it for the kids.”
Tracy reiterated, “Last Friday was an emotional night felt for both of us as parents and coaches. This would have been my first season as an “official” coach on staff here at TCHS. I have been helping my husband Ryan for the past 12 years purely as a volunteer and was excited to step up to the position of assistant coach. As a parent having a freshman son and a junior daughter, I was able to witness the disappointment our student-athletes are feeling. My son Benjamin missed out on his first chance to be coached by his father and my daughter Hannah returning for her first track season post ACL surgery. I am quickly reminded they will have future seasons and memories that our seniors have been robbed of, it’s been very tough on Ryan as well.”
Ryan won a state team trophy in track as a head coach and was an assistant during a few of the Warriors football state championships. To say he lives Tuscola athletics is an understatement, which is why he has been nominated for this year’s state Athletic Director of the year award. During his playing days he was part of coach Stan Wienke’s first playoff qualifying team as well as his first undefeated regular season campaign and a quarterfinal appearance.
“Ryan had good speed, good hands and was one of the better route runners that I have had here,” stated Wienke. “If he would’ve come along a little later in my coaching career with the spread he would’ve had some unbelievable numbers I think. “
Tracy was no slouch either in the black and gold taking home a pair of first place state championship medals in a pair of relays. She was part of both the 4×200-meter relay and the 4×400-relay on a team that secured the first state team trophy in TCHS history capturing second place hardware. Without a doubt the Hornaday’s are weaved in and out of Tuscola’s athletic programs and will be for a long time.