Talk to the players next time
Dear Editor:It makes me ill to imagine the fate of baseball in Aspen without Rick Ryan. It will suffer massively.Coach Ryan grew up in Aspen and played baseball for Aspen High School. He’s a fanatic for tradition, respect and playing the game right. He built a solid program for players who love to play. I played high school ball for him for three years and returned to assistant-coach for five summers. We won some and lost some, but it was always a fun and competitive program. Rick was a great player’s coach and a really great guy to be around. All of that should’ve been enough. But he was the right man for the job. He gave us the same chance as every other kid in America -the chance to play baseball. We didn’t even have summer ball before him.Coach Ryan believed baseball in Aspen should be just as serious as any other sport and he demanded serious commitment from his players – a commitment equal to his own. Somehow baseball is the only sport in Aspen where this sort of demand is considered an extreme by outsiders and/or the uncommitted. Rick did not want dabblers on his varsity team. His coaching style and his desire to build a winning program are not unusual in any sport I know of. For the serious players, we knew Rick was our man. He always made his demands very clear: hard work, commitment, tradition, respect and accountability. Clearly, Aspen High School has decided that this sort of philosophy is dispensable.It’s not unusual for a few parents to complain about a coach (playing time, philosophical differences, etc.) but normally that doesn’t cut it. It’s absurd to consider these complaints as reasonable grounds for dismissal. For a long time these complaints did nothing but frustrate his job. Now they’ve ended it. And they’ve ended a very good program. Some people just don’t know how good they’ve got it. It’s no secret that Coach Ryan had high expectations, but let me tell you, all of us who loved to play fed off Rick’s fire and we would have walked through fire with him anytime. His dismissal is a slap in the face to all the years of selfless commitment he gave us. This sort of blunder tends to bring long, miserable curses. It puts the screws on baseball in Aspen for sure.It would do AHS a lot of good to reconsider the matter. Maybe talk to the players this time.Jared GibsonAspenAHS baseball team captain, 2000
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