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Mount Ayr Raider football has undergone a few changes in recent years, with longtime coach Delwyn Showalter hanging up the headset two years ago, followed by his longtime co-head coach Derek Lambert finishing out his last year in 2020.
The search for a new head coach was on, along with the Raiders being placed in a new district with plenty of Class A teams such as Earlham, Riverside, Oakland and St. Albert, Council Bluffs.
The Mount Ayr Community School Board found their head coach and elementary physical education teacher, in Ryan Victor, a St. Edward, Nebraska native that grew up in a single parent home, playing 8-man football before heading to college to play football for Midland Lutheran College, which is now Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska.
Victor began coaching immediately after graduation, helping coach the team he had spent the previous four years playing for.
“Some great people in my life were coaches, and not just my football coach,” said Victor on his decision to start coaching. “They really showed me some things that maybe I wasn’t able to get at home. That’s really what got me into teaching and coaching.”
Victor began teaching in Omaha at St. Peter Claver High School.
From there, coach Victor interviewed for the strength and conditioning coach, as well as PE and head football coach at Missouri Valley in 2010.
Coach Victor was head coach there until the 2017 season when he stepped back to assistant coach for the previous two years.
When the coaching position opened in Mount Ayr, the Missouri Valley coach knew he had to give it a shot.
“I got to hear about Mount Ayr quite a bit over the last 11 years,” said coach Victor. “So when the opportunity arose to be there and be football coach and PE teacher, I had already known the pride, the program itself and the expectations that came along with it, so that’s exciting. Not that Missouri Valley didn’t have those things either, it’s just a different place, new setting and new challenges and that’s what was exciting.”
It won’t be all new to the new head coach, though, as the new district for the Raiders, puts him in familiar territory.
“I’ve known a lot of these guys for my entire coaching career and even when I wasn’t coaching, like Darrell Frane was the head guy at Riverside I got to see him and Avoca, I’ve coached against St. Albert and Nodaway Valley,” said Victor. “That actually killed a little bit of anxiety, you know, kind of knowing what we are getting into, but also well coached football teams. I’m excited to get to see some old faces, I’m excited because I get to be in an area where my mom can come and watch when we go to away games and I’m excited for the challenges because it’s going to be a tough district.”
Coach Victor understands the legacy that Showalter and Lambert leave behind, as well as the culture that they have built for Raider football.
“It’s not my job to change it,” said Victor. “It’s my job to build on it. They’ve done some things here that they’ve done for awhile and that’s not a bad things, but sometimes new ideas bring new adventures and that’s just it. Having the opportunity to work with Lucas Smith and Daniel Showalter and still getting to work with coach Lambert, those guys are great guys and being able to use some of the things that I do and still instill some of the things that they have done, I think we are just adding on to be able to get us to that next level.”
One of the first things coach Victor did when he got settled into his home in Mount Ayr was hold a get-together with the team for a team BBQ.
“I’m a relationship guy and that’s what I want our kids to know, with me not being in the building every day, it’s going to be a little bit different for me and for them,” said coach Victor. “It gave them a chance to come to my house and see that I’m human. We played bags, we ate and we talked about everything under the sun, except Mount Ayr football, and that’s a big deal to me because I want these guys to know that I care about them and their health, not just physically but their mental health as well. Getting them to see my family and not put up any barriers or holding any secrets, it’s an opportunity to get to know these guys.
He has been able to dive into the football mindset lately, however, with his first junior high football camp held, in which over 22 junior high athletes attended, along with the help of 28 high school players.
“Mount Ayr football is a big family, so if you’re playing youth football, junior high football” said coach Victor. “We are one big happy family and we want to hang out with the big brothers and stuff like that.”
When coach Victor moved to town he also brought along four children and a wife. His children aged, 16, 14, nine and two made the move a little more anxiety filled, but was so relieved when the community welcomed them with open arms.
“The kids have been awesome,” said Victor. “It’s easier for my older kids with my daughter being in cheer and drill and then with my son playing junior high baseball and now football, that was one thing I was worried about and the kids have been amazing.”
Coach Victor is ready to get started as the fall sports season begins to gear up.
“I’m super excited, the community has been amazing, accepting my wife and my family. That has been the most overwhelming and amazing thing. People have been helpful and gone out of their way to meet us,” said coach Victor. “That is small town America to me and that’s where I grew up and where I’m from and that’s pretty cool.”