Ravenscroft football coach Ned Gonet says it doesn’t get old – even after 32 years.
“Friday nights are still very electric and enjoyable,” Gonet said. “The passion is still there, and the fire is still there.”
Gonet landed at Ravenscroft as football coach in 1981 after playing football for the New York Giants and Duke University. In more than three decades at Ravenscroft, he has also coached baseball and girls’ basketball and is the athletic director, overseeing 25 sports.
He and his coaching staff and his players are spending the summer getting ready for football season – something that has changed during his years at Ravenscroft, he said.
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“In the old days we used to have a stop and a start,” Gonet said. “Now if you take the summer off and you show up in August and everybody is doing something different, you’re probably going to find yourself behind.”
And he says it’s important to keep up with the way the game has changed, especially newer offenses.
“I don’t care how long you’ve been doing it or how long you’ve been in the game, you need to be learning,” Gonet said.
Gonet’s football record at Ravenscroft is 227-126. Along the way, his teams have won four state championships and numerous conference championships. Gonet himself has an armload of coaching awards and has held leadership roles at the conference and state levels.
A family affair
Gonet also has had his two sons come through the Ravenscroft athletic program, playing football and baseball for him.
“It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had,” he said.
Son Cole, a 2009 Ravenscroft graduate, is now a linebacker at the University of Richmond. Son Connor, a 2011 Ravenscroft graduate, is a fullback for UNC-Chapel Hill.
“I think what separates him from most coaches is his ability to transform these high school students into young men on and off the football field,” Connor Gonet said. “He possesses the ability to teach the game to all his players regardless of the skill level they possess.”
Ned Gonet, who captained the football and baseball teams as a student at Duke University, says he is proud of his sons and their academic and athletic accomplishments while at Ravenscroft.
“They gave everything they could on and off the field. They were respectful of the game. They saw me as their father and respected me as their coach,” Gonet said.
Connor Gonet says his father expected his sons to be team leaders.
“He always told us that if we were to goof off or not do what we were supposed to do our teammates would think it’s OK to do the same thing.”
Connor Gonet says he has taken two lessons from his father, the coach, into the collegiate arena: “not to let others outwork me and to earn the respect of my teammates and coaches.”
‘A real impact’
Ned Gonet says that 32 years after his arrival he remains dedicated to his school and to an athletic program that has participation from 90 percent of Ravenscroft’s upperclassmen.
“A coach has a very unique opportunity to have a real impact on kids,” he said. You can encourage them, you can motivate them, you can correct them, you can guide them and help them set goals.
“Then you hope they take that with them to the next stage of their life.”