MORRIS NEWS SERVICE
Ryan Strong had a career goal of becoming a head football coach by age 30.
Strong reached his goal, albeit in what is also known as “futbol.”
As a player, Strong made a name for himself on the football field at Amarillo High and Texas Tech.
As a coach, Strong developed a love for soccer, leading the Randall boys soccer program to success.
And that love and passion is how Strong will be remembered.
Strong, 44, died Sunday after a brief illness, shocking the area soccer community and the Randall Raiders athletic program — places where he was well-respected by those who worked with him and competed against him.
“Ryan expected a lot of his teams, and that is what you want in a coach,” Palo Duro boys soccer coach Charles Johnson said. “We’re all blown away by this. It is pretty shocking. He was a good coach and worked hard for his teams.”
Strong, a 1984 Amarillo High grad, played one season at Texas Tech in 1988. He arrived at Randall in 2000 after serving as an assistant football coach at Rice and Central Arkansas. Strong started the men’s soccer program at Central Arkansas and helped start the women’s program. Strong also coached football and track at Randall, in addition to teaching world geography and economics and serving as a sponsor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Strong was married with two children. When he started his coaching career, he told family and friends he wanted to be a head football coach by age 30.
“When he was given the opportunity to start the soccer program (at Central Arkansas), he was 29,” his wife, Lorna, said. “Ryan said one day he guessed he wouldn’t be a head football coach by the time he was 30. I told him then ‘You are. That is what the world calls soccer: football.’”
The Raiders went 8-4-2 last season and finished second in District 5-4A.
“Ryan had a passion for his players, and wanted them to succeed on the field and in life,” Lorna Strong said. “He wasn’t just a coach. He was a teacher and a coach, as well as a father and a husband.”
Funeral arrangements were pending Monday afternoon.