Ron Whitehill was born November 21, 1948, in Salem, Ohio the only child of Robert and Mary Whitehill. As a youngster in Salem, Ron liked and played all sports, but baseball was the one in which he excelled. After a very successful pitching season when he was 16 years old, an elbow injury put a halt to Ron taking the mound again. After that, he played outfield and first base. In 1968, he played on Salem's D League state champion Lease Drug Team.
Ron arrived in Ashland in fall 1966 to attend Ashland College, where he majored in comprehensive social studies with a minor in health and physical education. Four years after graduating from Ashland College in 1970, he completed a Masters Degree in elementary administration/supervision from Xavier University.
Not only did Ron stay in the Ashland area to teach at Crestview, Mansfield, and Ashland after college, he also began playing for the Faultess Rubber fast-pitch softball team. During his 12 years with the Rubbermen, the team won two Ohio ASA state championships and one ISC state title. The Rubbermen also finished seventh in the ISC World Tournament and were runner-up in the ASA national tournament. That second-place finish qualified the team for a spot in the National Sports Festival in Indianapolis the following summer.
Also during the 1970s, Ron became interested in fitness and conditioning. He instructed an early bird fitness class at the YMCA. This led to increasing his training. He also began to enter all kinds of races, everything from mile runs to marathons. As president of Ashland Running Club, he organized many local races for community groups.
Coaching distance runners at Ashland High School was where Ron really excelled. As distance coach for the boys track team, his runners became a dominate force in the Ohio Heartland Conference and district meets. In the late 1980s and the 90s AHS distance runners were expected to toe the starting line at the regional and state meet. During that stretch, 15 Ashland runners qualified for the state meet with two receiving All-Ohio honors.
Track athletes he coached still have school records in the 800-meter run; 3,200; 4 x 1,600 relay and distance medley. His 1992 four-mile relay team not only established a school record, but its time of 17:54 was the fourth fasted high school time in the country that year. Several other memorable highlights of his track coaching career were winning the Mehock Relays 4 x 1,600 and having two runners finish first and second in the 3,200 to qualify for the state meet.
In an effort to improve the Ashland distance program, Ron and his training partner, Dave Potter, expanded the Ashland Middle School cross country program from basically an intramural team of eight to ten runners to a very competitive program with as many as 60 young runners. Both boys and girls teams enjoyed tremendous success, including several undefeated seasons, and proved to be a great feeder system for the high school's state-ranked teams.
After moving on to coach the AHS boys cross country team, Ron was a three-time Ohio Heartland Conference coach of the year and also won the district all three seasons he coached. One of his teams finished ninth at the state meet. During his years as a cross country coach, he helped develop more than 30 runners who competed at the state meet and had an impressive 2,316-335 coaching record for an 87% winning percentage.
Ron retired from education in 2000 after 30 years. He stays busy with his interior/exterior paint company and daily visits to the YMCA. He is married to Janet (JP) Whitehill. They have five children Deb (Ken) Bostic, Sandy (Greg) Graves, Becky Cooke, Christie (Michael) Blackmon, and Ross (Kim) Whitehill – and nine grandchildren.
Special thanks goes to his wife and family for all their support throughout the years. Ron also would like to thank the many teammates, fellow coaches and athletes for all the hard work put forth to strive to reach goals – not only the top performers, but all those who gave their all and took the challenge to be the best they could be. He said this honor never would have occurred had those many wonderfully talented and hardworking folks not been along for a wonderful trip.
Nominator: JIM MINNICH