ROTTERDAM — Twenty years after he graduated from Mohonasen High School, Matt Ronca is heading back to those familiar halls — and he couldn’t be happier.
Ronca was approved by the Mohonasen Board of Education on Monday night as the district’s new Director of Physical Education, Health and Athletics. He’ll replace David Bertram, who announced last month that he was departing the job to become the athletic director at Fort Plain.
“I haven’t stopped smiling since I got offered the job,” Ronca said in a phone interview Tuesday.
While Ronca is coming home, it’s not exactly a long trip to get there.
He comes to Mohonasen from the Schenectady City School District, where he’s served as Assistant Director of Physical Education & Health in the district’s Department of Learning. Ronca only started in that position this past winter, having served the previous three-plus years as the athletic director at Schalmont, Mohonasen’s crosstown rival.
The Mohonasen job offered an opportunity to return to working in interscholastic athletics — “I missed the chaos,” he said — which wasn’t in his job portfolio at Schenectady.
“I love Schenectady, the people here are fantastic,” Ronca said. “But, I missed athletics. I really didn’t think this Mohon job would open up for another six or seven years, but there it was. I didn’t think twice.”
Ronca, who officially starts on Sept. 16, will be Mohonasen’s seventh athletic director in the last decade. Joe Scalise spent eight years in the job before leaving in 2014 to work at the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake school district. He was succeeded by Matt Stein, who spent three years at Mohonasen before becoming the athletic director at Shaker. Stein was followed by Jason Friesen in 2017-18, then a brief interim term for Robert Stulmaker, then David Austin for two years before leaving for Guilderland, at which point Bertram took the role.
Ronca’s hiring, Mohonasen Superintendent Shannon Shine said in a news release announcing the appointment, came about as part of a plan to end that carousel.
“I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that we have seen high turnover in the AD position at Mohonasen over the past number of years, but I believe that time is now over,” Shine said. “In keeping with our district goals for long term planning, Matt was specifically hired to bring long term stability to the position, something which will only benefit our student-athletes and our athletic programs.”
While Ronca is changing jobs for the second time in less than a year, this move is being made with the intention of it being his long-term home.
“This is where I want to be,” said Ronca, who had previously been a finalist for the position in 2017, when he was the AD at Cobleskill-Richmondville. “This is where I want to finish my career.
“The previous ADs have done a fantastic job [at Mohonasen]. All the pieces are in place there. They just need someone to bring that longevity and consistency. The coaches need it, the athletes need it, so do the phys ed and health teachers.”
At Mohonasen, Ronca won’t just be in personally familiar surroundings, he’ll be heading back into an athletic environment he’s already well-versed in as a member of the Colonial Council. Both of his previous athletic director stops at Schalmont and Cobleskill-Richmondville were in the Colonial.
“To me, it’s an easy transition,” Ronca said. “The only thing I really need to learn are the people and the district’s policies and how the district operates. I know how to do the job. I understand the league, the section, the state.
He’ll also be getting back on the side of the Route 7 rivalry between Mohonasen and Schalmont that he was always more familiar with.
“It’ll be great when they come to us, because I can see some of the athletes, coaches and parents. That’s going to be nice,” he said. “I never thought I would’ve been at Schalmont, and then go back to Mohonasen as athletic director.”