By TRACY WATSON
For The Intelligencer
MOUNDSVILLE - When the school bells begin sounding again every year in late August, it is a clear sign in Monroe County that one of the Ohio Valley's finest and winningest, football coaches, Jay Circosta, will be patrolling the sidelines at Memorial Park.
While the fall is football time in the Woodsfield area, there is one coach who has brought his program around full circle. He knows the gridiron is king, but he is also seeking a little recognition for his team as well.
River High graduate Ryan Rosnick is currently in his eighth season as the head golf coach for the Seminoles with a team comprised of 10 golfers, something that a lot of people didn't think possible just a few seasons ago.
"We had a little more than four golfers my first year, but it just steadily dropped until there were only two - one boy and one girl three years ago," Rosnick said. "There was actually some debate as to whether or not the team was going to continue at that time.
"But we ended up getting some interest from some of the younger kids, and I think we have things going in the right direction now. I really had to talk them into not dropping the program. It is just something that once you do that there is a chance you will never get it back, and if you do you have to start from scratch.
"I have received so much support from the school system. They wanted to keep it going as well. We really don't offer as many sports as some schools, so you really want to keep the ones that you have established."
Rosnick's road to the head golf coaching job at Monroe Central started on the links at River High School for then Coach Bob Cain.
"I can remember my first match as a freshman, I had been golfing since I was 5 or 6 so I expected a lot from myself, but even I did not expect to go out and shoot a 33, and neither did Coach Cain.
"It has always been one of my favorite sports to play, but the older I have gotten the less chance I have to actually play. I used to play about five or six times a week; now I am lucky to play once every two weeks."
Former Monroe Central baseball coach, and current Athletics Director, Junior Winland actually brought Rosnick to the outskirts of Monroe County as the golf coach, and eventually assistant baseball coach.
Rosnick, who has been a teacher at Monroe Central now for seven years, then took the reins of the baseball team when Winland stepped down and has been filling both coaching positions since.
"Things can be different when you are coaching two teams," Rosnick said. "My offseason is the winter, but we actually still condition then and are doing something just about all year long in one sport or the other, or both, but I truly enjoy it."
Rosnick is happy of the fact that his teams have included at least one female golfer in each of his eight seasons, including two this year. The roster also includes one junior, eight sophomores and one freshman.
"It is nice that we can actually participate as a team, something we haven't been able to do a lot of the years I have been here," he added. "We had only been able to do individual scores, and the year we had two when we got to the state events, I had to split them up and be with each of them.
"While it is still golf, it just isn't as fun not to be a part of the team scoring. The baseball part has also helped with some of my players there taking up golf. It may not be their favorite thing to do, but it keeps them busy and competing.
"But sometimes it gets a little tough on me because I really don't know if I should help them with their swings when it looks like they have a bat in their hands," he joked.
As for that other sport that Monroe Central competes in the fall, Rosnick know what it means to the school and community and is not looking to compete with football.
"We have some good kids, and we even picked up a couple of sophomores this year that didn't play as freshmen," he continued. "And I know there are a few eighth graders coming up next year that golf, but I am aware of the other sport that takes precedence ,and I know there will be kids that head that way also.
"I just want all of them to be active, do something to keep busy and interact with all the other kids.
"Our team has only gotten better and we have a couple of kids this year that can really play and I am expect big things from. One of my current players has taken nine strokes off of his game since last year and is at 41 right now and that is good progress.
"These kids are taking the summer to practice and get better and that is what you have to do. (Monday) I have a couple of kids at the Monroe County Fair, so we are a little short-handed."
As for victories and goals, the Seminoles won a total of seven matches last season, but have already five early this year, something that Rosnick says is a huge step.
"We have definitely improved and there are goals, two of which the kids are very excited about," he mentioned.
"They asked me if they won 15 matches this season if I would be willing to dye my hair blonde and I made that deal with them. But I honestly believe we are better than that, so I told them that if they win 25 not only will I dye it blonde, but I will cut it into a Mohawk.
"No question that 15 is very reachable, and the 25 tells you how I feel, but I love that they are setting goals."
So, if in a couple of months you are walking down the hall at Monroe Central High School and you notice what appears to be a new student with a blonde Mohawk, just know that he is not a student, and he is not a football player, it is probably just golf/baseball coach Ryan Rosnick celebrating what he hopes will be one of many very successful fall seasons for his Seminole golfers.