When one pictures the word “sloth,” an image of a lazy, slow-moving, hairy animal likely springs to mind.
After having met Ryan Sloth, that image quickly evaporates.
Sloth, better known as children’s author “Coach Sloth,” visited Diagonal Elementary last week and was greeted with a boisterous welcome by students and staff alike.
From a scavenger hunt with the student council to different locales at Diagonal School, to a Cyclone pep rally down the elementary hallway, to an unforgettable plunge down the famous fire escape tunnel, Coach Sloth termed his visit to Diagonal one he would never forget.
“This is awesome!” he said. “I wasn’t expecting this. It’s such a small school, and they have a big heart… This isn’t typical. A lot of schools do have a lot of fun, but they don’t go above and beyond like they do here at Diagonal.”
Sloth has authored 10 children’s books, with more on the way. Two of those books he co-authored with his eldest children Tucker and Taylor. Sloth and his wife Emily have six children. Elliot, the second youngest, accompanied his dad on the visit to Diagonal.
A former Iowa State Cyclone defensive back, wide receiver, and running back, Sloth continued his success as a defensive back and wide receiver with the Iowa Barnstormers and other Arena League teams.
From 2008 through 2011 Sloth served as co-defensive coordinator, defensive backs coach, and special teams coordinator for the Iowa Barnstormers. During that span Sloth’s special teams were consistently ranked #1 in the league.
Beyond real-life football, Sloth has also appeared as a football player on the silver screen in five Hollywood movies – We Are Marshall, Leatherheads, Touchback, Amazing Spiderman, and Dark Knight Rises.
Sloth says he has maintained a love of writing since high school. In fact, he tells the story about how his mother saved a story he had written back in high school in Belmond.
After some stylistic tweaks, that story, starring Sammy Sloth as the slow but steady hero, became his first published work.
From that time, as one of Iowa’s most prolific children’s authors, Coach Sloth has visited over 1,000 schools and shared his books with over 500,000 kids across the country, from California to Texas to Florida to New Jersey, but mainly around his home state of Iowa.
In 2022 alone he has shared his talents with elementary students in Bedford, Lenox, Lamoni, Mount Ayr, and now Diagonal.
Sloth will have visited 15 schools across the state by the end of April.
“I started visiting schools and thought ‘this is a lot of fun,” he said. “Sharing books with kids… trying to get as many books as I can to talk to kids and encourage them to do the same thing and try to inspire them to be authors someday and write their own stories.”
Coach Sloth’s books are available on Amazon as well as on his own website: coachsloth.com.