Judge grad Ryan Nase taking over Cheltenham football program

A former high school player, Nase is returning to the field to help give students the experience he had.

Ryan Nase, who served as an assistant at Father Judge and Penn Charter, was named head coach of Cheltenham High School. Photo: RYAN NASE

Ryan Nase knows exactly what it takes to make a good football player.

Nase, a 2002 graduate of Father Judge High School, came into the school a football novice, and he didn’t improve overnight.

In fact, prior to his senior year, he didn’t play a snap in a game.

His senior year, that all changed. He went on to not only become a starter for the Crusaders, but he grew into an All-Catholic-caliber lineman, then went on to play a season at Peddie School (New Jersey) before accepting a football scholarship to Lafayette.

Now, he’ll be helping others make those same improvements.

Nase, who works as a teacher and athletic director at Tacony Charter, accepted the head football coaching job at Cheltenham High School. The 32-year-old takes over for Joe Gro, who spent 29 years on the Panthers’ sideline.

“It’s a great opportunity, I’m really excited about it,” said Nase, who will remain at Tacony Charter as both a teacher and AD. “I’m ready. I’ve had a lot of help to get where I am, and I really think I’m ready. It’s a great job because of the support I’ve already received from the administration, the school and the community.”

Nase has had great mentors along the way, and realizes just how much a good high school football coach can do for a teenager.

During his time at Judge, Nase played under the tutelage of Tom Coyle, who has played a huge role in his former player’s life long after he stopped wearing the baby blue football jersey.

“I talk to Tom Coyle probably a lot more than he wants to talk to me,” Nase said with a laugh. “He’s helped me so much. He was a groomsman in my wedding. Guys like him are the reason I wanted to go into coaching. He’s been a huge influence on me.”

That’s exactly the kind of coach Nase wants to be.

Nase began his coaching career the year after he played at Lafayette. He signed on as tight ends coach and worked as director of football operations for the Leopards.

He also had stints coaching at a school in St. Petersburg, Fla., and then joined Coyle as an assistant at Father Judge. When Coyle left to coach at Penn Charter, Nase went with him.

Last year was the first season Nase spent away from the game.

“I didn’t miss it during the summer, but once the season started, I really started to miss it,” Nase said. “I really missed being around the team, being around the guys. Doing all the things you do during the season. I wanted to do it again.”

Nase realizes he is in for a tough task at Cheltenham.

The Panthers return a talented squad that is thirsty for knowledge, but plays in a tough division where every team has the same goal — winning games and making the state playoffs.

It won’t be easy, but he likes what he sees.

“The kids are great,” Nase said. “I come from Father Judge, which has such a family atmosphere. It’s the same way at Tacony Charter. So far, everything I see at Cheltenham, it’s exactly like that. It’s the kind of place you want to be.

“This year, Cheltenham has had some bad publicity because of an incident, and our kids aren’t that way, and they are adamant about showing everyone that that’s not who they are. That’s not who they are and they want people to see that. These kids are great kids who want to play football and represent Cheltenham. I can’t wait for people to see them.”

Nase comes to the school with some guys he knows he can trust.
His staff includes former Neumann-Goretti head coach Dan Concannon and offensive coach Kyle Yeiter, who has coached with the Bustleton Bengals and last season was on the staff at Father Judge.

And because of how he runs the program, all players will learn from the varsity squad.

“At Penn Charter, everybody practiced together and it was very beneficial,” Nase said. “Obviously, we’ll be smart, we’re not going to have a 14-year-old kid go up against a strong, 18-year-old. We’ll work that out. But when you are coaching, you want everyone to learn the same system, and when you have good coaches, it’s good when you can get them all on the same page and working together. It worked great at Penn Charter.”

Nase has great support from the school, and also has it at home.

His wife, Katie, worked as a learning specialist at Archbishop Wood. She’s taken a sabbatical to raise the couple’s twins, 3-year-olds Cadence and Kalyann.

Coaching is a time-consuming job, and Katie is fully supportive of her husband’s career.

“I want to win a championship because she has bragging rights at Wood,” Nase joked. “She’s very supportive. You can’t be a coach unless you have that support. I’m very lucky.”

Nase wants to get down to coaching, which includes making his good players great and his novice players ready to make plays.

“A lot of coaches focus on the best players, and I think I could be a little bit the opposite because I saw what a player can become with good coaching,” Nase said. “I’m a teacher first, and then a coach. I think I’m a better coach because I’m a teacher, and I think I’m a better teacher because I’m a coach, it all goes together.

“Being a coach, a teacher and an athletic director is great because you can help kids in three different roles. The reason I’m a coach is because I love teaching and I love football. I have the best of everything at Tacony (Charter) and Cheltenham. I’m ready for the fall.” ••