Ronaynes work side by side for gymnastics


Photo: Jordan Maurice/Iowa State Daily

Mary Ronayne, director of Gymnastics Operations, reacts to a gymnast’s performance against Minnesota on Sunday, Feb. 26, at Hilton Coliseum. 

Isaac Hunt

Some say that behind every great man is a great woman. But beside ISU gymnastics coach Jay Ronayne is his wife, Mary Ronayne, director of operations of ISU gymnastics. 

The husband and wife duo make the workplace professional while still carrying out normal lives outside of the office. At least as normal as they make it to be. 

“The college athletics world doesn’t run on a 9-to-5 schedule,” Jay said. “To be an effective college coach, you have to be available for 24 hours a day. A lot of spouses wouldn’t get that.”

They both joke Jay is the boss from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and after that Mary is in charge. 

“Partly a joke, partly true,” Jay said. “At work I’m the boss, and at home she’s the boss. That’s how any married guy would treat it. I say ‘yes, dear’ a lot, but I can’t say that at work.”

While Jay was coaching at Auburn University, Mary worked as assistant director of operations for the aquatic center there. 

“That was a really neat job,” Mary said. “Simply because they were national champions every year.”

Now that she is at Iowa State, Mary’s role has taken a turn. The West Virginia University graduate has gone from managing students, lifeguards and other employees to more of an administrative role in gymnastics. 

“I get to be more social [at Iowa State], which I love,” Mary said. “It fits right in my world.”

Mary does everything for the team except coach and recruit. From coordinating travel, payroll and appearances by the gymnasts, to being a mother away from home to athletes, comforting them and packing their bags for every meet, Mary does it all. 

“Jay and I don’t have children of our own, so this team is our family,” Mary said. “I will do anything in the world to help these girls with anything.”

Effectiveness does not come into question with the couple. Jay has led the Cyclones this season to two victories against top 25 teams and one of the main strengths of Mary is an obvious one.

“She gets stuff done,” said assistant coach Kristen Maloney. 

Mary said there are not really negatives to the job. She said ISU athletics is developing individuals to go out into the world, and she is thankful she gets to be a part of that.

There’s no doubt, Mary said, she loves her job at Iowa State. The only downside, in her eyes, is that she wishes she could spend more time with the gymnasts. 

“It’s sort of like being part of a family you’re not part of sometimes,” Mary said. “That’s kind of hard for me.”