May 28—For a large part of Ryan Bonheyo's life, Maryland School for the Deaf football has been a large part of his life.
He played for the national deaf powerhouse Orioles under his father more than a decade ago, then returned to take over the program as head coach in 2015.
Now, with a growing family and new responsibilities, he decided it was time for the program to take more of a back seat. Bonheyo stepped down as varsity coach earlier this week after six years and five extremely successful seasons (the Orioles did not play football this school year). The decision was hard on his heart, but it was made for personal reasons.
He and his wife, Chanel, are expecting their first child in November, and he also recently began a new job in business development with Communication Service for the Deaf.
"I've been playing/coaching football for 25 consecutive years," Bonheyo said Thursday via text message. "There are many things I want to accomplish in life. With my new job and growing family, I can no longer give my full attention to the program.
"As much as I love our football program, I knew it was time to pass the torch."
During his guidance of the Orioles, Bonheyo went 46-6 and won four deaf national championships (MSD has won a total of 15). He was selected as coach of the year by National Deaf Interscholastic Athletic Association and DeafDigest Sports three times. Several of his players went on to play football for Gallaudet University, where he also once played as a running back after a terrific career at MSD (he's a 2009 graduate) that initially earned him a scholarship to Towson University.
"It was one of the toughest decisions I had to make in a very long time," Bonheyo said of his choice to step away. "I will always cherish those memories I've created with our current [and] former players, coaching staff, and the community."
After his playing career, he followed in the footsteps of his father, Andy, MSD's athletic director and former football coach. Ryan Bonheyo worked his way up the ranks, first as a middle-school coach, then as a special teams coordinator for the high school squad. When he assumed the reins of the program, it didn't miss a beat.
He said that, even with all of the winning he oversaw with the Orioles, the best part of the job has been "seeing our former players striving in the real world. That's when I know I did my part as a coach."
Even so, he has his favorite memories from the MSD sideline. One occurred early in the Orioles' 2016 undefeated championship season when they blanked Sidwell Friends. Another was the goal-line stand in a win over Friends as time expired in 2017. He also mentioned MSD's "instant classic" victory over Texas School for the Deaf in 2018 when the Orioles outscored their foe 21-6 in the fourth quarter, getting a game-winning TD with 8 seconds left to secure the national title.
With such a close connection between Bonheyo and the Orioles, he expects to maintain some sort of relationship to the program. He's willing to help the new coach any way he can.
"Just because I'm not the coach anymore," he said, "it doesn't mean my love for the program goes away. This program holds a special place in my heart."
MSD AD Andy Bonheyo said he has already started a search for the next head coach.