Citing health reasons, longtime SUNY Schenectady head men’s and women’s bowling coach Ray Ross resigned recently after a brilliant 26-year career.
Ross, 51, will remain at SUNY Schenectady as a math professor, a position he’s held since 1992.
The Mohonasen High School and SUNY Buffalo graduate guided the men’s bowling team to eight Mountain Valley Conference titles, seven Region 3 championships, including six in a row, and two National Junior College Athletic Association crowns.
But Ross also established the Royals’ women’s program as a national power, leading them to six Mountain Valley Conference titles, six consecutive Region 3 championships and four straight NJCAA national titles.
Ross was named the NJCAA Coach of the Year in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
“Ray, without a doubt, has been the best bowling coach in the NJCAA over his tenure here and will be very difficult to replace,” SUNY Schenectady athletic director Dave Gonzalez said Monday. “He set a high standard for our program during his time here as coach. His student-athletes’ success on the lanes and in the classroom during his time was second to none.”
To be sure, Ross took the term student-athlete very seriously.
“The national championships and the regional championships were nice, but what I think about the most is how much fun we had with the kids and their parents. I spent a lot of time traveling with them and with their parents. That’s what I will remember the most,” Ross said. “I’ll also remember all the great assistant coaches I’ve had over the years, including AJ Indovina, Will Coons and John Jablonski.”
A tireless recruiter who annually enticed most of the Capital Region’s top scholastic bowlers to his program, Ross always focused on academics first.
“My whole philosophy boils down to my bowlers being student-athletes,” Ross said. “I want them to graduate and be good students. Our graduation rate for the program was five times the national average. I’m very proud of our graduation rate. I keep track of a lot of bowlers and see them after their careers are over. They are all working, happy with the jobs they have, and many are still bowling.”
Ross gained a reputation for knowing the sport of bowling inside and out. Although back problems forced him to quit league bowling in 2008, he was an outstanding player in his own right and was inducted into the Schenectady USBC Hall of Fame in 2015.
“The last few years, I focused on two different areas in practice, team and individual,” Ross said. “After recruiting a bowler from high school, I never changed a student’s game too much. I stayed with their core abilities and enhanced what they gave me. Being a teacher, I would always explain why it would be better for them to make a change and how that change would affect them in a good way.
“The other aspect of my coaching was to make sure every bowler was a part of the team. It’s an individual sport, but it’s a team game. I tried to make sure my bowlers got the mental dynamic of being a good teammate and to get a long on the lanes and in practice.”
As a league bowler, Ross compiled a 228 composite average in Schenectady Bowling Association competition. He rolled 42 perfect games and once averaged as high as 237 in scratch league play. He was a member of three Reis Group Kim Brown Memorial City League titles and three Boulevard Bowl Classic championships. Ross won four Northern Bowlers Association titles when that organization was the premier scratch tournament vehicle in the Capital Region.
“I’m looking forward to see who applies for the SUNY Schenectady position, and I wish them the best,” Ross said. “I’ll help in any way I can.”
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