METAMORA, Ill. — Thirty years.
That’s how long Pat Ryan has been wearing a whistle as the head football coach at Metamora High School.
“A lot longer than some would have hoped,” Ryan joked.
He’s seen a lot of football in 30 years. His teams have won 265 games and he’s taken the Redbirds to seven state title games. He’s won two state championships.
Ryan has seen the game evolve from run first to pass first. From grass to turf.
And he used to be home by 10 p.m. on Friday’s. Now he’s still on the field coaching many games at 10:00.
“The pace of the game. the game is a little longer than when we first started,” said Ryan. “But it’s still football.”
As he prepares for his 30th start to a Mid-Illini Conference season Friday, Ryan can say he stays he’s energized when he sees young students develop into young men through this rugged sport.
“You’re seeding kids develop and you watch the growth from day to day. Seeing kids pull together. They weren’t a team, they are thrown together and see those moments,” Ryan said. “Heck, three months ago those players may not have even known one another. That part is enjoyable.
He’s seen just about everything in his three decades at Metamora. He’s coached some of his player’s fathers and uncles.
And he’s known some of his player’s parents since they were students years ago.
“Yes, I’ve coached several guys’ dads,” Ryan said. “The key is I hope I don’t ever have a kid say, ‘Coach, you coached my grandfather.’ I might wear out my welcome if I try and stay that long.”