On Mar. 17, Principal David Jaffe named Ron Gladnick TPHS head football coach after a one-month application process.
Gladnick comes to TPHS from Clairemont High School in San Diego, where he was head coach 2011-2014, leading the team to its first CIF playoff win in nearly a decade in 2013. Prior to Clairemont, Gladnick coached for former TPHS head football coach Scott Ashby in 2009 and 2010.
Football has not been a career-long pursuit for Gladnick. He spent the majority of his post-college years in business in San Diego, establishing aerospace company Dart and a manufacturing company named Apical Industries in 1995. However, coaching was an early love.
Gladnick played high school football and went on to play for Hillsdale College in Michian, where he was a team captain, MVP, and a First Team All-American. After graduating in 1982, he coached at Brecksville High School, where he led the team to an Ohio state championship title in 1983. He later returned to Hillsdale College and coached there from 1984-88, guiding the team to a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Championship in 1985.
Gladnick returned to TPHS when he discovered a coaching position was available.
“I was so happy [when I was chosen for the position],” Gladnick said. “I’m 52 and I’ve accomplished a lot of things, but this is definitely in the top five things that have ever happened to me.”
The process began after Ashby spoke with his players and sent a letter to the “Torrey Pines Football Family,” announcing that he was stepping down as head coach.
“Coach Ashby, in the years he ran the program, did an outstanding job,” Jaffe said. “I’m very proud of the work he did and I’ve only been here a year, but I got to see the success of his program through the players and the type of young men that they were.”
Jaffe began the search for a new head coach by asking “stakeholders,” including players, parents and coaches, to identify what they wanted in a head coach.
“People wanted to see someone who is passionate about the game, but also passionate about developing young men,” Jaffe said. “Someone who will take them as freshmen boys and see them walk away as men who are contributors to their school and their community.”
The position also required varsity, college or professional head coaching experience. According to varsity football player Blake Arnold (10), the team wanted a coach who had experience in the TPHS football program and who would care about the athletes “not just as players, but almost as a son.”
Jaffe, athletic director Chas Doerrer and Assistant Principal Garry Thornton paper-screened 22 applications, ultimately choosing six to be interviewed. The first round of interviews was completed by the three administrators, TPHS Foundation executive director Bobbi Karlson, former TPHS Foundation president Brad Shoen, teacher and San Dieguito Faculty Association Building Representative Tim Staycer, track and field head coach Charlenne Falcis-Stevens, and former NFL player and TPHS alumnus John Lynch (‘89). The panel then recommended the top three candidates, who again interviewed with Jaffe, Doerrer and Thorton, before Jaffe conducted the final interviews for each candidate.
“[A good program is not measured by] winning and losing, but how the players carry themselves,” Jaffe said. “If the players represent their school well and do good things in the community, they inspire other people. But it can also go conversely: If you don’t have a good coach and you don’t set a good tempo, it can have a real negative impact.”
According to varsity football player Christian Gange (11), the team had a very positive reaction to Gladnick’s introduction to the team.
“He seems like a coach who’s going to be very honest,” Gange said. “A coach who works us hard and expects perfection, but in the same way he’ll be right behind us and fight for us whenever needed.”
Gladnick follows in the footsteps of Ashby and Ed Burke, who coached at TPHS for 21 years before Ashby.
“Coach Gladnick gets his opportunity to write his own chapter in the Torrey Pines football legend,” Gange said. “He has the right to start off fresh.”
Gladnick plans to speak with TPHS coaches about encouraging football players to play other sports, and in turn encourage other athletes to play football, as he believes football is only one component of a player’s high school sports experience. In his meeting with the football team, he emphasized bringing back the “tradition” of the football program and his belief in “simple things.”
“We’re going to focus on capturing all the intangible things, including how disciplined we are, how hard we work and how passionate we are, [which are] things that you cannot measure with a tape or clock,” Gladnick said. “It’s not about how fast you run or how high you jump, but how you conduct yourself and how your work ethic pervades everything you do.”