J. Thomas McNamara
Ron Ingram cared for others.
As MacArthur’s boys basketball head coach, he watched over student–athletes who played for him.
I know how much he cared for others.
Since my wife began having health issues more than four years ago, Ingram‘s first question when I walked into the gym was “How’s your wife?” It was the same thing when I called to preview his next game and review the last one for Decatur Tribune city previews and reviews. He was genuinely interested.
Now it’s time for us to ask him “How’s your health“ since he resigned for health reasons Tuesday night (Sept. 8) as MacArthur boys basketball head coach after six successful years courtside with his Generals.
Coaches have the toughest job in any school district, having to answer to administrators and school board members, who in some cases don’t know a thing about athletics, but have all the answers from the stands and bleachers.
That’s why it didn’t surprise me when Ingram disclosed that he’s been battling stomach ulcers, ulcerative colitis, for more than than four years. Often, it caused him to double over in pain or lose enough blood that he simply didn’t have the energy to put into coaching.
Look closely at the picture illustrating this story, which show’s an animated Ingram on the sidelines during last year’s 50th anniversary Decatur Caterpillar Thanksgiving tournament.
He knew something had to give and remembered what his fiance and others often told him, including this writer, when he first had an incident several years ago when he was hospitalized in Springfield overnight, that one’s health comes first.
Ingram estimated the ulcers are a result of stress and his diet, which he’s changed completely, he said. He’s feeling better now, but understands the right decision for his health was to step down. At one workout on the track, Ingram recalled yelling across the track to Crutcher and feeling a sharp pain in his stomach.
“I just didn’t have energy to do what I needed to do,” Ingram said. “I noticed it last year when I was coaching, I just wasn’t up and down the sideline like I used to. I wasn’t as vocal as I used to be. I didn’t have the energy to do what I need to do. I really feel like now I have the energy to do it, but when I made my decision I really didn’t have the energy to do anything.
Ingram is doing that now, finally taking care of number one for the first time and good for him.
What he’s achieved in six years running courtsides of MacArthur basketball is remarkable, given all the different personalities and egos he had to deal with every day, including weekends, in practice and games when everyone wants the ball and there is only one to share.
The school board at its Sept. 8th meeting approved his resignation. During his six years, his teams won 113 and lost 72, won two regional plaques. He came to MacArthur from Peoria Manual where he was a long-time assistant. Ironically, Peoria Manual is scheduled to play in next November 2021 51st annual Thanksgiving tournament.
Asked about Ingram’s resignation and the battles they had, Eisenhower’s Rodney Walker responded, “Coach is one tough customer! He stuck it out as long as he could. He’s done a fine job with the program and he’s leaving it in good hands with coach Bryson!
“Coach Ingram came into a program with a seasoned team as will Bryson. There’s no doubt in my mind that Reese will keep the momentum going. Get well coach and job well done.“
The school district, Crutcher said, isn’t permitting any interviews for a position until a decision is made on in-person learning.
“As of right now, Tarise would be in charge of the basketball program,” Crutcher said. “We’re going to post the job in late September and see what applicants we get and we’re going to have to go through the interview process when the district allows us to interview candidates for the job.”
I’ve already thrown in my two cents on the hiring, suggesting to Athletic Director Crutcher that Bryson has earned the job and the interim should be removed from his title.
I’ll have more on this obviously developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.