Beyond shocking

By on October 23, 2019

Landis reacts to his selection as District Three AD of the Year

Long after fans had filed out of Grosh Stadium last Thursday night following the L-L League girls soccer finals, Warwick Athletic Director Ryan Landis and a couple others were the only ones left. There were empty chip bags and drink cups to be cleaned up.

Last minute details had to be executed.

It was a brief snippet in the life of an AD.

But those details, both big and small, are things at which Landis has excelled.

His peers have noticed.

Not only those in the L-L, but beyond.

Last week, Landis was named as the PIAA District Three Athletic Director of the Year.

Based on a vote, each of the District’s six leagues selects its AD of the Year. From there, those individuals are placed on a ballot at the District Three meeting, consisting of athletic directors from 10 counties, where a winner is selected.

Landis will be recognized for the honor at the Athletic Director’s State Convention at a March luncheon at the Hershey Lodge.

Ever-humble, Landis described the selection as “beyond shocking” and deflected attention to others.

Ryan Landis, who will celebrate his sixth anniversary this December as Warwick’s Athletic Director, was named the District Three AD of the Year last week. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer.

“I think by nature,” Landis said, “your first reaction is, ‘I don’t know if this is really warranted. This is a little bit much.’ It’s nice to be told you’re doing a nice job, but … I know so many of the other athletic directors, and it’s the same way in coaching, you right away think, ‘Well, why didn’t this person get it?’ But then you step back and you look at it as, like a sports team, an athletic department is a team. So I view this as a positive for our school district, it’s a positive for all the people who work behind the scenes to make an athletic program successful.”
Among those people who work and support him behind the scenes are administrative assistant Robyn Rissinger, athletic trainer Sheila Hershey, and of course, his wife, Christel, on the home front. The Landises have three children — Hailey, Cayden and Kam.

“I tell people that I have three fantastic assistants,” the 1993 Warwick High School grad said, “and they are Sheila for everything she does with the athletes, Robyn, who does an unbelievable amount behind the scenes, and then truthfully, my wife, because she keeps the fort down at home and allows me to be at so many things, which I couldn’t do if there wasn’t that support. I think one of the reasons our athletic department works well right now is I’m able to get to a lot of sporting events, whether it’s bowling or golf or swimming or soccer, whatever it is, and the reason I’m able to do all of that is because there’s so much day-to-day stuff that I delegate to Robyn and she just does it. While a lot of athletic directors, I think, are drowning in that work and can’t escape their office, I’m fortunate that I have someone who does it and she does it well, and it allows me to out and about, which I think our student-athletes and parents appreciate.”

Warwick’s Ryan Landis is shown with Penn State football coach James Franklin at the Warriors’ game on Oct. 4.

This December, Landis will celebrate his sixth anniversary as the Warriors’ athletic director.

Previously, he spent 16 years in various roles coaching basketball. That included a stint as the Warwick boys head coach from 1998-2002, in addition to serving on the Warrior staffs coached by Brian Brewer, Steve Eshleman and his brother, Jeff.

Ryan also was the head boys basketball coach at Garden Spot from 2005-09, along with serving in the Ephrata boys, Manheim Township girls and Millersville University men’s programs.
Those experiences helped prepare him for his role as the Warriors’ athletic director.

“I think it’s just a matter of, as a head coach, you experience the highs and lows of being a head coach that only they truly understand,” said Landis, who also was an elementary teacher for 14-plus years. “So I think in this role as an athletic director, the challenges, and I’ll be honest, the rewards and the good moments and bad moments, I’ve experienced them. So I think it helps me understand sometimes from a head coach’s perspective what they’re trying to balance and what they’re trying to deal with. I don’t ever want head coaches to feel like I’m out to get their job if they’re not winning because this is high school and while we want to be successful, that’s not the ultimate end-goal. Extra-curricular activities — athletics, the same as music, band and performing arts — are there to help the educational process for kids and to help teach life lessons. I remember as a head coach the pressure I put on myself to be successful, and I think I bring that perspective of not wanting the coaches to feel that we’re a win-at-all costs mentality.”
Certainly, there have been a lot of highlights for Landis over the past six years, not the least of which was seeing the Warwick girls claim the State track and field championship last May.

Landis was actually wearing multiple hats in Shippensburg for the memorable triumph. After undertaking the role as the L-L League’s softball chairperson for four years, he was completing his first year in that role for track.

Of course, Landis also wears the hat of being a family man, and he is always mindful of how Christel and their children are doing with his busy schedule.

“I think the biggest challenge,” Landis said, “is that constant family check, like, are my kids OK with how much I’m gone? They’ve been great about it. They think it’s a cool job. They don’t have to see some of the tougher moments of it, but the reward is, I just love the post-season especially. That’s really fun to watch, like the trip to Bucknell for swimming or to Ship for track or to Hershey for wrestling … those things are really fun. I enjoy that.”

Landis will be making another trip to Hershey in March, this time as the District Three Athletic Director of the Year.

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