Ryan named head coach of track and field team

Ray Bressette

The NMU athletic department promoted Jennifer Ryan to the role of head coach of the women’s track and field team on Saturday, Aug. 23.

Jennifer Ryan has spent 14 seasons with Northern Michigan University, and has served as the cross country head coach for the past seven seasons. (NW File Photo)
Jennifer Ryan has spent 14 seasons with Northern Michigan University, and has served as the cross country head coach for the past seven seasons. (NW File Photo)

Ryan has been the head coach of the Cross Country team for the last seven years, along with serving as an assistant coach to the track and field team. Ryan said she’s ready to help change the Track program. “It’s really exciting for me and everyone involved,” Ryan said. “We’re really excited to see what we can do with this group of students.”

Ryan said the cross country team has had a lot of success in recent years. She said she is excited and can’t wait to see how well the team can perform, as well as the track team. “There will be a lot of continuity between the two programs,” Ryan said. “And I’m excited for the positive changes.”

Ryan has been with Northern Michigan University for 14 years, and began as a graduate assistant to the Nordic Ski team head coach Sten Fjeldheim.

Ryan was hired on as a full time assistant to Nordic skiing in 2002, which she fulfilled for 11 seasons.

Assistant coach Alex Carradine said Ryan’s kept up her success at NMU because of her great connection with her student-athletes.

“I think she’s been able to maintain success because she hasn’t lost sight of the fact she’s working with college students,” Carradine said. “She wants everyone to be well-rounded, so she understands that sometimes they’re going to have to work or study for a test.

“She allows them to have a balanced life without becoming too overstressed so that they’ll still be able to maintain a great athletic performance.”

Ryan is originally from Brunsville, Minn. and attended Montana State University.

Ryan skied for Brunsville for four seasons, where she was an All-American and Academic All-American, placing fourth at the College Nationals in 1988.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in math education and minoring in physical education and health.

Junior Jaylee Brown said she believes the team can buy into Ryan’s system.

“She’s going to bring a really good, happy atmosphere to the team,” Brown said. “She always shows up happy and it rubs off on the rest of us. She knows how to get things done, and we all know she has a great deal of knowledge of this sport.”

Ryan earned her masters degree at NMU  in exercise science and was named Outstanding Graduating Graduate Student.

Ryan said she feels she has the young talent to help build a successful track program.

“I think it’s a pretty small group returning to our track team this season, but we do have some new faces with great talent,” Ryan said. “I’m excited to build a real positive environment and a great atmosphere moving forward.

“The exciting part is that the group is so small and new, we’re creating a fresh outlook, and it’s going to be great for this program.”

The Track and Field team will begin their season on Saturday, Dec. 6 at the St. Scholastica Opener in Duluth, Minn.