Can one of the school's top volleyball players return the program to glory?
The Berkshire Badgers have looked to their own and hired Jessica Ronyak as the next varsity volleyball coach.
Ronyak, a 2009 graduate, was one of the best volleyball players the Berkshire program has ever had, leading the team to Chagrin Valley Conference championships her junior and senior years and winning the CVC MVP award. She was a four-year letterwinner.
“I’m extremely excited,” Ronyak said. “I’ve always been interested in coaching, and when this opportunity came up, it all worked out and fell into place.”
Ronyak replaces Tim Percic, who coached for Berkshire just one season. Percic replaced long-time successful coach Joni Prots, who coached Ronyak during the beginning of the team’s golden era.
“Jess was a great athlete at Berkshire and played on some very successful teams while there,” Prots wrote in a message. “Hopefully she will have as much success as a coach at Berkshire as she did when she played there.”
“Anytime one of our kids come back it’s special,” Principal Steve Reedy said of the choice. Ronyak will be recommended to the Berkshire Schools Board at its regular June 9 meeting and must be approved by the five-member board. “I call them my kids. She was one of our better players, and we have a really good tradition of volleyball dating back. And she comes from a fantastic family.”
Ronyak played volleyball at Kent State University for two years before transferring to the University of North Alabama and finishing her collegiate career.
She now works for her family at Ronyak Paving in Burton.
It was Athletic Director Brian Hiscox who approached Ronyak about the position. Hiscox is also a Berkshire graduate.
“We had been looking for a coach for some time, and things just weren’t working out with who we were talking with,” Hiscox wrote in an email. “It might have been a blessing in disguise, as Jess wasn’t even in the conversation when the search started, but then she moved home. She has hit the ground running with open gyms and getting to know the girls.”
The Badgers only graduate one girl from last year’s team, and Ronyak is excited about the prospects.
“We will have a strong junior and senior class and actually have a few freshmen and sophomores, as well,” she said. “Right now I’m just trying to get to know the girls.”
Ronyak, who is 23, said the parents have been very supportive early.
She also has turned to Dennis Lory, Berkshire’s varsity basketball coach who coached Ronyak on the basketball court.
“There are a lot of challenges that she’ll handle,” Lory said. “Her demeanor is probably her most valuable asset that she has because she keeps everything in perspective. You never saw Jessica get out of control. She’ll always know what’s going on. She’ll a very prepared, well-thought coach.”
Those who know Ronyak and Ronyak herself have pointed out her competitiveness, a trait she hopes to instill in Berkshire, which struggled last season with few wins.
She hopes to bring the 2014-15 team back to the fundamentals.
The Cardinal Huskies swept the CVC Valley last season, including two wins against Berkshire. Ronyak said the matches against Cardinal will be on her radar.
“She has played for some great coaches along the way as well,” said Hiscox. “She is a young coach, and with that will make mistakes here and there. But that is how you learn in this profession. I know she is going to put forth all of her effort into this program.”
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