An era, of sorts is ending as Ron Ammons is retiring as the head softball coach at UF after 13 seasons. "I did not intend to retire when the school year began," remarked Ammons, "but an early retirement incentive was offered, so I applied and was approved."
Ammons is only the sixth head coach in the program's 31-year history. Sheryl Neff, the team's second head coach, was at the helm for nine seasons. "There have been several wonderful head coaches in this program, and I am proud to be listed among them," observes Ammons. "There is likely much more responsibility in running a softball program than people may imagine."
The Oilers recently completed a 26-22 campaign in which they qualified for the GLIAC Tournament for the third consecutive year. Only Ashland, Grand Valley and Wayne State have participated in the previous three tournaments. "Our annual goal is to qualify for the post-season tournament and have a winning record, and that has now become an expectation," says Ammons.
The Oilers have won 233 games during Ammons' tenure, and will return a number of proven young players next season. "The program is very healthy, in my opinion, and there is a depth of young talent that should sustain and hopefully accelerate the program's success." Six seniors will move-on, but five defensive starters return plus the entire pitching staff. "We have specifically tried to enhance our depth of talent in the recent past," shares Ammons, "and it is nice to return a core of players with game experience."
Asked what he has enjoyed most during his time at UF, Ammons replies, "I enjoy young people. I began coaching young people when I was a very young person myself." He adds, "sports participation tends to reveal the true character and intentions of people, and can be a source of personal growth, especially for the young."
Ammons is a history enthusiast, and relates how he was introduced to the game of fast pitch softball. "My grandfather was a bare-handed outfielder in the early men's fast pitch leagues in Findlay some 80 years ago. Every generation of our family has been raised with the game since that time." Ammons adds, "I have heard people remark 'respect the game,' and that was certainly the case in our family."
The retiring head coach frames his reflections by expressing this final thought; "I would like to sincerely thank the UF administration, athletic department, my assistant coaches, training and strength staff, and all of the softball student-athletes for sharing in this great opportunity with me and my family."