Remembering a Father to a Thousand Sons
So how do you measure whether a high school coach has been a success?
Is it simply by their won and loss record and championships earned? If that’s the case than history would not treat Ron Emmert all that special. Over 15 years as the head football coach at Southern Regional between 1972-86 his teams went 65-68-4, claimed a division co-championship and twice qualified for the state playoffs.
Not bad but not legendary. However ask the young men who played for Emmert about their coach and you will hear comments that will make you realize that success and greatness cannot simply be measured by what happens on the field.
On Friday Ron Emmert lost a 2 ½ year battle to lung cancer and passed away in his Toms River home at the age of 72. He fought the disease with the same grace and dignity that he lived his life and he battled it much like an opponent with superior talent. He tried every option to pull out the win including his famous “sleeper” play but in the end the opponent prevailed.
When I think of Ron I also think of Tony Sermarini and Dave DiEugenio. The trio met as freshman football players at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania and within a couple of years of graduation were all teaching and coaching at Southern. They would spend 54 years together as best friends and their families would celebrate birthdays together, go on vacations together, watch children get married and eventually all become grandfathers.
I want to get back to success and why Emmert truly personified it on the high school level. Wins and losses are often forgotten but life lessons are not and if you ask those who played for Emmert they’ll tell you to this day they use many learned from him. His ex-players remained a part of his life and he theirs many years after they took off the shoulder pads. No doubt to some they have lost a father figure as well as someone who showed them what it’s like to be a father.
Ron’s love for Southern Regional was evidenced by his frequent visits to Rams games and the school returned that love last September when the football field was named after him. Just two months earlier he was inducted into the Shore Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
He leaves behind his wife Pat, daughters Bonnie and Christy and four grandchildren along with a “thousand sons” who wore the black and gold. They’ll gather to say goodbye on Wednesday at Anderson and Campbell Funeral Home in Toms River from 3-7pm.