From Player to Coach

Matthew Washuta

Colgate men’s soccer head coach Erik Ronning ’97 has been an instrumental part of Colgate’s success both as a player and a coach. Initially in high school, Ron-ning wasn’t sure he was going to play Divi-sion I soccer. But, at the suggestion of his high school coach, Ronning decided to see whether Colgate would be a valid option for him.

Upon visiting the campus, Ronning was in awe. He found that the community asso-ciated with Colgate is like no other. The fac-ulty, students, coaches and players involved with Colgate were so passionate about what they do, and that passion inspired him. Ronning ultimately decided this is where he wanted to continue his education and his soccer career.

During his four years as a soccer player at Colgate, Ronning helped elevate the Raid-ers to new heights and set a new founda-tion for success. As a student, Ronning, like many others, found his passion. He wanted to continue his investment in soccer as a coach and a mentor. “[Coaching] became a passion of mine. I didn’t intend on it,” Ron-ning said, the first-team all-Patriot League selection and team MVP. He decided to start his coaching career as an assistant coach at Colgate.

During his tenure as an assistant coach from 1997-2001, Ronning helped guide the program to unprecedented success. Several players earned prestigious Patriot League hon-ors and the 1997 team won both the Patriot League regular season and tournament titles.

Ronning wanted to take coaching to another level but didn’t want to leave Col-gate. He called on fellow mentors and coach-es in the Colgate family for guidance. After weighing the options, and with support of members of the Colgate family, Ronning ul-timately decided to take a job as an assistant coach at Northwestern University.

His four short years at Northwestern were quite remarkable. Ronning helped transform a failing men’s soccer team into a nationally ranked program. Even then, he never forgot the Colgate family and said he would always “bleed maroon.” A coaching vacancy at Col-gate presented itself in 2005, and Ronning leapt for it. He earned the job of head coach for men’s soccer. Ronning is grateful for the opportunity.

“I’m so fortunate to be in this program, to be a coach here. I knew I forever wanted to be a part of this program, this family,” Ronning said.

He catapulted Colgate’s soccer pro-gram, reviving its successful ways, but that isn’t what empowers him. He is able to lead a program and help guide a trans-formation in the young men he coaches and mentors.

“I’ve had a lot of young men come through – young men who believe soc-cer is everything for them. But then Colgate becomes everything for them,” Ronning said.

Ronning is able to lead a group of young men who “not only want to be great athletes, but also want to be great students.” This, he reasons, is part of what makes Colgate such a great institution. It is a community of indi-viduals who aspire to greatness in their many diverse pursuits.

Ronning’s investment in Colgate as a stu-dent-athlete and a coach is reflective of what Colgate prides itself on. His leadership and devotion to Colgate accentuates a source of pride within the Colgate community.

Contact Matthew Washuta at [email protected]