Over the past few years, Sky View High School has enjoyed unprecedented levels of success within its athletics department.
Ryan Gruing, the athletic director for the Bobcats, has helped pave the way for his alma mater’s lengthy list of accomplishments.
“It’s been kind of a dream ride, but it all starts with the coaches that we’ve got at Sky View, and then the kids,” Grunig said. “But I also think one of the reasons that we’re very successful here is we have great athletics in this valley, and we push our kids every year and every team that we play pushes us, no matter who we’re playing, and it prepares us to do well at state.”
The Bobcats have excelled under Grunig’s leadership, and he was recently recognized for his hard work. A week ago, the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) announced Grunig as their 2019 State Award of Merit recipient for their Utah chapter.
The Hyde Park native is now in the running for a sectional award from the NIAAA. Should Grunig receive that award, he will be honored at a national conference at the end of the year in Tampa, Florida. There are eight sections nationally and Grunig is one of five candidates from Section No. 7.
“I’m really thrilled for him and this is a well-deserved honor,” SV Principal Mike Monson said. “Ryan’s a guy that works hard and I don’t know if people always appreciate what goes on behind being an athletic director. ... There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes on. A lot of times people just show up to a game, everything’s all set up and nobody thinks about who’s putting (everything) up and taking it down. So, there’s kind of that physical aspect, and then he does a great job with managing budgets. He has to work with coaches, and he does it well.”
Grunig was nominated for this award at a board meeting by Rich Barton, the athletic director at Richfield High School. The Utah State University graduate said he was “humbled” to be recognized by his peers.
“It’s a pretty humbling situation,” said Grunig, who has known he would receive this award since February. “There’s so many ADs that work hard and we do the things we do for the kids, and so to have them select me was kind of one of those ‘ah’ moments for me that I was really surprised about.”
In most years, Grunig would have be honored at an April conference in St. George for athletic directors from around the Beehive State, where he would have received a plaque and given a speech. However, that annual event was canceled due the COVID-19 outbreak.
The coronavirus also led to the cancellation of nearly the entire high school spring sports season, which means Grunig is not as busy as he normally would be. Indeed, being an athletic director is a time-consuming endeavor.
“I joke with my wife that during football season and especially basketball season that I have to introduce myself as a visitor every day when I come home,” said Grunig, who is finishing his seventh academic year as Sky View’s AD — the first three years he was a co-AD with Melissa Stuart.
At a typical varsity game day for football, Grunig said he arrives at Sky View at 6:30 a.m. and doesn’t get home until around midnight. During the peak of each athletic season, Grunig asserted “an athletic director is probably working 60 to 70 hours a week.”
The job can be exhausting, but watching Sky View athletes shine is a welcome trade-off for Gruing, who has been employed at his alma mater for nearly 21 years.
Even with the cancellation of spring sports, the Bobcats captured one state championship, four 4A runner-up trophies and six Region 12 titles during the 2019-20 academic year. Sky View won region titles in football, volleyball (shared with Green Canyon), boys basketball (shared with Ridgeline), boys golf, girls swimming and boys swimming. The football team reigned supreme at the state tournament, while the boys golf, boys basketball, girls swimming and boys swimming teams placed second. The volleyball team finished third at state.
During the 2018-19 academic year, the Bobcats claimed state titles in boys basketball, boys soccer and volleyball, plus region crowns in boys soccer, volleyball, boys golf and football.
During the aforementioned timespan, Sky View athletes Mason Falslev (boys basketball twice and football once), Jonathan Bergeson (boys soccer) and Kristen Schumann (volleyball) have been selected as the Deseret News 4A MVP in their respective sport. Additionally, Bobcat golfer Ryan Seamons was the medalist at the 2019 4A State Championships.
Several coaches have excelled during their time at Sky View, and Grunig played an instrumental role in the lion’s share of them getting hired.
“My philosophy and Ryan’s philosophy, as well, is you get coaches in place that can build positive relationships with teenagers,” said Monson, who raved about Grunig’s people skills. “.... There’s a lot of people that know X’s and O’s and can do that, but not everybody can build those kind of relationships. And when you do and you get those right coaches in place, then the winning kind of takes care of itself.”
Prior to becoming Sky View’s athletic director, Grunig taught math at the Smithfield-based school. He also spent 14 years as an assistant coach for the boys and girls soccer programs.
“I’m just thrilled for Ryan,” Monson said. “He’s not only a good athletic director, but he’s just a good person.”