JAY RONAYNE | HEAD COACH
Jay Ronayne is entering his 14th season as head coach for the Iowa State gymnastics team in 2020 and has seen the Cyclone program rise back up among the nation’s top teams both in the gym and in the classroom. Over his first 13 seasons at the helm in Ames, the Worcester, Massachusetts native has coached Cyclone student-athletes to eight Big 12 Championships, six NCAA Gymnastics Championships individual event specialists qualifications, four All-America honors, two Big 12 Gymnasts of the Year titles, two Big 12 Newcomers of the Year nods and a Big 12 Event Specialist of the Year award.
Iowa State has made it to the NCAA Gymnastics Championships Regionals in 12 of Ronayne’s 13 seasons, and came within a tiebreaker of advancing to the 2007 NCAA Championships. Three of Iowa State’s four highest regional round scores in program history have come under Ronayne’s guidance.
During his tenure in Ames, Ronayne has seen record crowds come to watch his Cyclones inside Hilton Coliseum. The top four attended meets in Iowa State history, including a record crowd of 7,732 against Oklahoma on Feb. 8, 2013, have come under Ronayne’s watch. Iowa State consistently ranks among the nation’s best in attendance numbers, as the Cyclones have finished the season in the top 25 in national attendance for 17-straight years.
The Cyclones made it to the Regional round of the third-straight season in 2019, finishing the season ranked No. 20 in the country, ISU’s highest final ranking finish since 2009. The Cyclones have finished the season in the Top 25 on back-to-back occasions for the first time since 2010-11. The 2019 Iowa State squad features seven gymnasts who recorded a score of 9.900 or better during the season for the first time in his tenure.
Ronayne and the Cyclones have been fortunate to have a recent outstanding run of quality individual gymnasts who have gone on to represent ISU at the NCAA Championships. Meaghan Sievers twice won the vault competition at the Regional Championships (2016, 2018) to advance to the National Championships, while Haylee Young, a two-time Big 12 champion, made it to NCAAs as an all-arounder in 2017.
Senior Caitlin Brown qualified for the NCAA Championships as an individual for the second-straight year in 2015, making it five times in the previous six years Ronayne has had an individual qualify for the NCAA Championships. Brown’s senior year had many highs, tying a school record on balance beam, regular and postseason All-America honors on beam and a Big 12 championship on uneven bars, the apparatus coached by Ronayne. Big 12 All-Around champion, Haylee Young, was the first Big 12 all-around crown for Iowa State in 12 years.
The 2014 season saw the Cyclones put up another outstanding postseason run. A challenging regular season left Iowa State needing to post its season-high score at the Big 12 Championships hosted by West Virginia. Ronayne and the Cyclones delivered, finishing second with a season-high team score of 196.650 and Camille Santerre-Gervais earning the Big 12 title on uneven bars. One of the last teams to make the NCAA Regional Field, the Cyclones put up another strong performance at the Baton Rouge Regional, finishing third for the second consecutive season with a 196.350.
In 2013 Ronayne guided the Cyclones to one of the best postseason runs in program history. Iowa State’s season culminated with Michelle Shealy finishing fifth on balance beam at the NCAA Championships, the highest finish by a Cyclone in program history on the beam. Shealy also earned All-America First-Team honors on the beam. ISU started its 2013 postseason with its best score of the year at the Big 12 Championship to place second before finishing third at its NCAA Regional in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Shealy was not the lone Cyclone to earn prestigious post-season distinctions, as senior Elizabeth Stranahan was named the Big 12 Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year and four ISU gymnasts took home All-Big 12 Championships honors.
Ronayne’s squads continually score well in the classroom and make their impact in the community. During his time at Iowa State, the Cyclones have received 75 total Academic All-Big 12 honors. In 2012, Ronayne’s team earned the Cyclone Challenge Cup, an honor that goes to the Iowa State team that tallied the most points through individual and team participation in Iowa State Student-Athlete Development programming.
Ronayne was named head coach at Iowa State on July 5, 2006. He came to Iowa State after four highly successful seasons (2003-2006) as the top assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Auburn.
Ronayne’s tenure at Auburn coincided with the most productive period in school history. The Tigers competed in four consecutive NCAA Regional Championships (2003-06), one NCAA Championship (2003) and produced three All-Americans in his four years. Ronayne is credited with helping elevate the Tigers’ program into a steady top-20 finisher (three times in his four seasons) with his tireless and effective recruiting skills. Prior to his appointment, Auburn had gone six seasons finishing outside of the NCAA’s Top 20. Ronayne also helped the Tigers rank in the nation’s top five in attendance in two of his last three seasons.
Prior to joining the staff at Auburn, Ronayne was the top assistant at West Virginia University, where he helped the team to eight conference titles in the EAGL (East Atlantic Gymnastics League), 13 NCAA Regional appearances and three NCAA Championship appearances. He coached four All-Americans, seven individual qualifiers, two NCAA Regional champions and 20 conference champions. He was named the 1992 NCAA Southeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year.
A native of Worcester, Mass., Ronayne began coaching gymnastics after competing in the sport for 12 years at the USGF and NCAA levels. A 1989 graduate of Massachusetts, Ronayne received a bachelor’s degree in English. Since his graduation, Ronayne has done extensive graduate study in sport psychology and athletic coaching education.
Ronayne is married to the former Mary Hefferin, who is the Iowa State director of gymnastics operations. The couple had their first child, Jack, on Jan. 1, 2014.