Ryan Eshleman-Robles ‘09 has been named boys varsity soccer coach at Eastern Mennonite School.
A Harrisonburg native, Eshleman-Robles played varsity soccer at EMHS for four years, captaining the team and earning all-state recognition in 2008. He was part of the 2007 VISAA Division I championship team. He also lettered three times in EMHS basketball and once in track and field.
Eshleman-Robles went on to be a four-year starter and one-year captain at Eastern Mennonite University, where he played center back and earned numerous all-conference and all-state honors and, in 2012, was named the ODAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. At EMU, he earned a BA with majors in biology, philosophy and theology with a minor in English.
After graduation, he earned an MA in curriculum and instruction from the University of Mississippi. He then taught high school and was an instructional coach in Sardis, Miss., for five years before spending time in Guatemala with his wife, Valeria.
“We are thrilled to have Ryan join the EMS community,” says Dave Bechler, athletic director. “Not only does he bring deep experience as a player, he brings depth as a human being, as a person of faith and integrity, and expertise as an educator. We could not ask for a better fit with our philosophy of athletics and nurture of the whole student.”
Former Coach Bauman Key
The new coach credits his high school soccer coach, Kendal Bauman, for shaping him as a player and person. “Some of my most important gains in confidence, emotional maturity, and soccer skills came at EMHS,” says Eshleman-Robles, who says he is “thrilled to come home to a place I love and to a program that meant and still means so much to me.”
“Coach Bauman provided me with immense inspiration to be a better player and a better human. I aim to be a steady presence and to provide an atmosphere in which many young men can experience similar growth.”
Winning matches is a priority to the new coach, but, Eshleman-Robles notes, “it is more important that the team is a place that is open and life-giving to many types of students.” Under his leadership, Eshleman-Robles says the program will provide a supportive environment that “encourages camaraderie and positivity among teammates.”
With his appointment, Eshleman-Robles becomes the seventh coach to hold the role in a program that was established in 1967. The program has been known locally, regionally and at the state level for many years for the quality of play as well as sportsmanship, notes Bechler. Coach Bauman coached 21 years before stepping away in 2012; he continues as a physical education teacher and assistant athletic director.
“I’m thrilled to build on the program’s long legacy,” says Eshleman-Robles. “Soccer challenges athletes physically, mentally, and emotionally. Young men on all kinds of journeys can benefit from the sport. We will give students the opportunity to grow both personally and as part of a group that pushes itself to be better each day. I am excited to grow in new ways myself,” he concludes.