Each year, The Colgate Maroon-News chooses a topic to highlight for a Special Edition. This December, our theme is “People of the Year,” modeled after Time Magazine’s annual “Person of the Year” issue. In this special section, we have profiled sixteen individuals who have had made significant—and perhaps lesser-known—impacts on Colgate’s campus this year, be they in the classroom, at the football field or even on the Cruiser. Inside, read about what defines them as worthy of recognition.
Born in Simsbury, Connecticut, John W. Beyer Head Men’s Soccer Coach Erik Ronning ’96 fell in love with soccer as a child.
“It was something that I became passionate about. I fell in love with the sport at a very young age. There was a great soccer culture [in Simsbury],” Ronning said.
Ronning went on to play in college for Colgate. While majoring in history and minoring in educational studies, Ronning played for the Raiders as a fullback for the 1993-96 seasons and served as team captain during his senior year.
After a storied playing career, which included an All-Patriot League First Team selection and Colgate’s MVP award, he became an assistant coach, a position he held at Colgate from 1997- 2001 and at Northwestern from 2001-2004.
“When I was going through Colgate, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I felt I wanted to teach, first and foremost. But I also wanted to coach. I was involved with teaching in a lot of different ways, mainly in sports. I also really enjoyed my History major… Then, in my senior season, the assistant coaching job was open.
So, I mentioned in passing how I wanted the job. I got an opportunity and fell in love with it. I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity that was provided to me,” Ronning said.
Ronning has been on an unbelievable run of success as the head coach since taking over in 2005. Ronning followed up the Raiders’ best ever NCAA Tournament finish, that ended in an appearance in the Sweet 16 in 2017, with another strong year. Ronning led the Raiders to its third Patriot League championship in three years and tied the school record for 13 wins in a season. The team added another NCAA Tournament appearance this year, in which they won in the first round at New Hampshire, but fell to number one seed Wake Forest on the road in a competitive 2-0 loss on November 18.
“From a pure soccer standpoint, what’s going to stand is the last few years. We’ve always had fantastic kids. Great kids. And what these kids have accomplished over the last few years is really incredible. It’s a testament to the work, [and] the effort, that they put in,” Ronning said.
After 14 seasons with the team, Ronning has created countless memories.
There are, however, some that stand out.
“Last year, in 2017, the success we had. The win that we had against the University of Massachusetts, to follow that up and then come from behind against Michigan. Just seeing all the smiles as we won. The run we had. Even in the Patriot League. We came from behind to win a couple games. It was a really special run from the Patriot League on to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament,” Ronning said.
Ronning has cultivated a winning culture. That, however, is not all that he values.
What Ronning looks for in his players is both straight-forward and sometimes hard to find.
“I look for three things. Great people, great students and great players. There’s a little bit more that goes into it as well. Just people that are going to represent Colgate really well. More the intangibles than the tangibles. Guys that are willing to do more than is expected to be successful in all facets of my life. And finally, kids that are going to love Colgate. Great kids, high character kids.”
Contact Ignacio Villar at [email protected]