There have been a number of outstanding coaches of all sports at Ryan.
Many of them stayed at Ryan a short time and then bolted for greener pastures and ended up with highly successful careers.
This article will focus on the top ten coaches of all-time with a lot of consideration given to success but also tenure at Ryan. Some of them had short tenures but where highly successful. Others stayed a long time. A few coached more than one sport with success.
Not all the names of the coaches of boys and girls basketball, track and baseball have been identified – especially when you get before 1950.
However, the Cowboys and Cowgirls did not have a lot of success in those sports in the early days with a few notable exceptions. It would be a reasonable assumption that a coach has been left off this list and if so, this writer would be glad to hear from you.
Here’s the list that surely will create a bit of conversation among former Ryan athletes through the decades.
1. Raymon West
When you have your name placed on the basketball court and win a state championship, you are bound to be at the top of the list. Coach West put together an outstanding career at Ryan. The vast majority of his coaching career was spent with Cowboy and Cowgirl athletes. He had short tenures at Irving, Burkburnett and Duncan, but the rest of his coaching career was at Ryan. Coach West coached every sport at Ryan at one time. His 1962 boys’ basketball squad was the first roundball team at Ryan to qualify for the state tournament. He also coached a number of football teams during that time and coached baseball. He guided the 1965 Cowgirls to a state title – defeating three opponents by a total of four points. He returned to Ryan in 1970 to coach basketball and become the high school principal. Coach West was instrumental in the move from 11-man to eight-man football. He coached the final 11-man team and the first three eight-man squads – winning a district title in the first year of eight-man football. He coached boys’ basketball for 15 seasons and was at the helm of the Cowgirl basketball squads for a total of 11 years.
2. Stan Mueggenborg
Coach Mueggenborg, who is the only current coach at Ryan to make this list, spent 11 seasons as the head football coach and head baseball coach. He compiled a 110-97 record during that span in baseball and recorded an 81-52 record in football. The 81 wins is the most by a coach in school history. The football squad made nine playoff appearances and won two district titles. Mueggenborg directed the Cowboys to a pair of double-digit win seasons and two semifinal appearances. He even directed the Cowboy basketball team for half of a season. He is currently serving as the fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball coach for the Cowgirls.
3. Phil Elerick
The long-time Oklahoma high school football coach made an incredible impression on the football program at Ryan. He is second to Mueggenborg in total number of wins, but it was accomplished in just six seasons – from 1984 to 1989. He guided the Cowboys to a 58-16 record during that time. Elerick was the first Ryan football coach to guide a team to the state semifinals and was also the first coach to take a squad to the state title game. The Cowboys had three state runner-up finishes, four district titles and five playoff appearances during his six years at the helm of the Cowboy grid program.
4. Lane Weldon
Weldon had a long tenure as the boys and girls basketball coach at Ryan. He coached both teams for 10 consecutive years – a feat unequaled in Ryan basketball history. During his tenure at Ryan the Cowgirls won three district titles and made two area tournament appearances. The Cowgirls made the regional tournament in eight of the 10 seasons Weldon was roaming the sidelines. The Cowgirls were 123-132 during the decade of Weldon’s influence. Prior to his arrival the Cowgirls had suffered through five different coaches in six seasons. The Cowboys were also successful under Weldon’s coaching prowess. All ten of his Cowboy basketball teams advanced to the regional tournament and the Cowboys won six district titles and advanced to the area tournament four times. The Cowboys were 164-96 under Weldon. Weldon also coached softball and baseball during his time at Ryan.
5. Gordon Garner
The only reason for Garner being behind Weldon was the number of years he stayed at Ryan. The veteran Oklahoma prep coach guided the Cowboy basketball team to a state tourney appearance – only the second time in school history. The boys’ teams during that time were 37-52 with one district crown. Garner guided the Cowgirls to a 62-32 mark and won two district titles. He also coached track for three of his four years at Ryan and was the assistant football coach with Elerick.
6. Richard Hendricks
Here is another coach that had a short but really successful coaching career at Ryan. He coached both the Cowboy and Cowgirl basketball teams for only two seasons – 1966 and 1967. His boys’ teams struggled, but the Cowgirls put together two outstanding seasons after claiming the state title in 1965. The Cowgirls won the district tournament in both seasons Hendricks served at Ryan. The 1966 squad attained a ranking as high as fourth in the state. Overall, Hendricks put together an astounding 40-9 mark in two seasons.
7. Travis Smith
Smith guided the Cowboy baseball squad for four seasons, but those four years were some of the most successful years of Cowboy baseball. His tenure came after the first two seasons of the renewed baseball program at Ryan. Smith guided the Cowboys to a 76-27-1 record and the Cowboy nine garnered two district titles. The 1996 squad finished 24-6 and was one game away from a state tournament appearance.
8. Bill Hunt
Hunt came to Ryan from Seiling and helped guide the Cowboys to one of the most successful 11-man seasons in school history. Hunt is the winningest 11-man coach at Ryan and is the only 11-man coach with a winning record in at least three seasons. The 1974 squad was 9-1 and dropped a tense 26-22 decision to Pernell in the fourth game of the season. That was the final season that only the district champion advanced to the playoffs. The 1974 team finished ranked eighth in the state – without an appearance in the post-season. Hunt is also responsible for revitalizing the boys’ track program at Ryan. The 1973 mile relay team won a state title and the 1972 team won the conference title and was the regional runner up. Hunt finished his career by coaching at Cache for over two decades.
9. Chy Waters
Waters coached girls’ basketball and softball at Ryan for five seasons. Her basketball squads put together a 70-49 mark and won two district titles. All five teams were either district champions or runner up. Two of her squads advanced to the area tournament, which is half of all the area tourney appearances made by a Cowgirl team. Waters guided the 2011 Cowgirl fast-pitch team to the district title and a regional tourney appearance – the only time in the short history of the program that has happened.
10. J.F. Robertson
It is likely that no one reading this article would remember Robertson. He coached the Cowboy basketball teams in 1916, 1917 and 1918. All three squads had winning marks – with the 1917 team putting together a 15-2 record. The 1918 team, for which a final win/loss record is unavailable, claims a mythical state title as that season preceded the first playoff system for basketball.
Honorable Mention List (no order): Gene Wells (coached three sports during his five years at Ryan – including the only district title in 11-man football and three district baseball titles and after leaving Ryan he established a powerful athletic program at Hobbs, New Mexico); G.J. Williams (the first Ryan football coach and if all the records were available may have more wins than coach Hunt); Andy Claborn (coached only two football seasons, but the Cowboys advanced to the state championship game in both seasons); Mattie Norman (was the first girls’ basketball coach to direct a squad to a district title and regional tournament appearance); Glen Alain (coached football for only two season, but the 1929 Cowboy squad defeated Yukon on Thanksgiving Day to claim the mythical state title); Frank Norman (coached track for the Cowboys for an unknown number of seasons, but the 1941 team claimed the county title and had two dominant relay teams that won a number of meets during the season).