Michael Ramoska '76: Thanking 'Coach Mike'

By Mary Boone

Michael Ramoska ’76 isn’t an actor, singer or professional athlete.

Still, it’s rare that he’s able to go to the mall or grocery shopping in his Mission Viejo, Calif., neighborhood without being recognized by one of his young "fans."

Ramoska has coached and managed 28 American Youth Soccer (AYSO), Little League and roller hockey teams since 1991. Over the years, his crazy antics and sense of fun have earned him a spot in the hearts of hundreds of southern California children. Now he has earned national recognition as AYSO "Favorite Coach" of the year.

More than 600 children responded last spring when Soccer Now magazine asked its readers to nominate their favorite coaches.

"I was totally floored and completely honored," says Ramoska, who works as national account manager for Wilson Racquet Sports and who’s married to Vicki Grabar Ramoska ’75.

Ramoska started coaching in 1991 when his oldest son, Alek, now a high school sophomore, started playing organized sports. He now coaches his younger son Andre’s teams.

Spray-painted hair, refereeing barefoot and organizing scrimmages against players’ moms add an unexpected sense of fun to the game and have earned Ramoska the nicknames "Coach Mike" and "Psycho Man." (Ramoska’s nicknames are long-lived–his Puget Sound buddies knew him as "The Mad Russian.")

Ramoska, who lists former Puget Sound track coach Joe Peyton as one of his personal role models, says the honor has brought calls and letters of congratulations from fellow alumni, most notably from his Theta Chi brothers. In fact, one of his fraternity brothers, Roger Engberg, built a Web site showcasing Ramoska’s accomplishments.

"Giving back to the community and giving time to kids has always been important to me," says Ramoska. "Winning a league championship is nice, but this award is something I will absolutely never forget. I truly am