Coach Ernst retires following record season
Ernst reflects on his 32 years of coaching and plans for retirement
By Deana Johnson
The Red Hawk football team played its last game of the season Nov. 12, becoming Midwest Conference champions and honored head coach Ron Ernst. After 32 years of coaching, Ernst retired after beating Lawrence University 82-0 at Ingalls Field in Ripon.
To celebrate Ernst’s career, alumni attended the final game to show their appreciation for years of dedication to the Red Hawks football program.
“The greatest part of coaching the Red Hawk football team is the relationships that were developed with the players. On Saturday [Nov. 12], about 200 former players came back to see us defeat Lawrence and to see my last game, but more importantly, it was to rekindle friendships that they had when they were players here. It’s really all about the friendships and relationships that are developed,” Ernst said.
The Red Hawks had ended the year with a 9-1 record, becoming Midwest Conference Champions, and earning Ernst the title of Midwest Coach of the Year for the second time in his career (1996, 2022). Ernst also earned the Wisconsin Private College Coach of the Year Award for the fourth time in his career (2001, 2008, 2010, 2022).
“This year’s team performed very well and up to their potential, which is very hard to do. I felt they came together as well as a team could and really supported each other to reach a common goal. Ending the season with a conference championship is really special, especially for our seniors. They have worked so hard for so long to see them finish their careers with a championship is very special.” Ernst said.
Ernst reflected on what made him stay coaching at Ripon and what his plans are following his retirement.
“What kept me at Ripon were many things. My wife has a great job and she was very happy developing a well-respected teaching career. My three sons were able to grow up in a community that allowed them to be a part of so many different activities and this is simply a great college. I’ve received so much support that there was no reason to go anywhere else. The grass is not always greener on the other side of the hill,” he said.
“In retirement, I plan to do some house fix-ups, travel, and follow my grandkids to all their activities. Absolutely, I am going to be at as many Red Hawk events as I can. I’m looking forward to all the athletic events. Go Red Hawks!”