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Tuscola’s Ryan Hornaday named 2022 IADA District V Athletic Director of The Year by the Illinois Athletic Directors Association

The Hornaday family pictured from left to right Tracy, David, Hannah, Ben and Ryan. Submitted photo.

By Daniel L. Chamness
Needless to say, the last two years have been extremely trying for every athletic director in the state of Illinois for obvious reasons.

During this trying time, Tuscola’s athletic Ryan Hornaday emerged as one of the best. The Tuscola athletic director, who also serves as the boy’s track coach as well, was named the Division V Athletic Director of the Year by the Illinois Athletic Directors Association (IADA); He was one of seven athletic directors in the state of Illinois to earn the honor. The state of Illinois is divided into seven seperate sections.

“I have found him to be extremely helpful and extremely organized,” said Lyle Dorjahn, Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond’s head cross country coach. “He has run some important meets with relative ease. He runs an extremely successful athletic program.”

While Division V is only one of seven divisions, the land mass of the fifth division is simply huge. The northern border is Kankakee. It extends all the way to Effingham as the south. The eastern border is the Indiana state line, while the western border is Illinois Route 51. Hornaday, who has been the Warrior AD since 2011, has been nominated twice for this honor. This is the first time he was selected by his fellow athletic directors.

“There is no higher honor than being selected by your peers,” said Hornaday. “It is really quite flattering. It is rewarding to know that others in the profession think highly of the work I am doing.The worst time for me is always the spring. Not only was the recent COVID to deal with, but the weather is ever present. Managing baseball and softball as well as coaching track is tough to juggle. The never-ending task of dealing with cancellations and rescheduling events is a tricky thing to navigate.”

Away from the duties as athletic director and coach, he has filled many roles. He has taught Driver’s Education, not only instructing them in the classroom and driving with them as well. During his tenure at TCHS, which started in 2005, he has served as an assistant football coach and assistant girls basketball coach. Before earning a position at his alma mater, he taught and coached at both St. Teresa High School and Villa Grove High School.

A typical day for Hornaday includes scheduling opponents for events, scheduling transportation for Tuscola teams, answering scores of emails, returning phone calls and texts. In addition, he has to oversee the ordering of uniforms and scheduling umpires/officials.

“The weather can really play havoc with the schedule,” said Hornaday. There is never really a “down time” for an athletic director. Even though most teachers have the majority of the summer off, I will be in the office getting things ready for the upcoming year. While I might have a date cleared for Tuscola if something gets canceled because of the weather, now I have to also clear a makeup date with the opposition athletic director. Then I have to find officials if the original ones are not available. It is tough at times because there is a shortage of officials.”

Hornaday is married to the former Tracy Baird. The pair have three children, Hannah, now a student at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Benjamin and David, both students at Tuscola. In addition to Hornaday and his wife being involved in track as high shcool students, all three of their children are also involved in track and field for the Tuscola Warriors. Hornaday moved on to run for Millikin University, a Decatur-based school competing in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin and nationally in the NCAA Division III.

“Ryan understands and values what the job entails,” said Drew Sterkel, who works as the Tuscola Girls Track Coach and works especially close with Hornaday in the spring months. “Everyday, it shows he has learned from the best and he has taken those lessons and applied them to the job. He is constantly learning and looking for ways to get even better. Most importantly, he has created an environment that positive relationships are built. He understands how being part of a team translates to adult life.”

Academically, Hornaday majored in Exercise Science as an undergraduate at Millikin University. He continued his education at Eastern Illinois University, earning a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration.

“The state championships have been amazing,” said Hornaday. But, 2012 was a year when we had success in baseball, softball and track. Both softball and baseball advanced to state from their assigned IHSA Supersectional within minutes of each other. A week later, the 800-meter relay team I would say the best year of my career as an athletic director, thus far, occurred in 2012,” said Hornaday, who was just finishing his second year in the job. “One week later the 800-meter relay team not only won the state title, but set the state record, Ten years later and nine state meets later, the record still stands. That overall success level by the spring sports will be tough to top.”

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