Jan. 29, 2014
by Amber Sellers
UH Athletics Communications
As the University of Houston track and field team prepares for its next home meet, the Cougars take time to remember a special Cougar this weekend during the annual Howie Ryan Invitational & Multi's.
The late Howie Ryan came to Houston from Yonkers, N.Y., on an athletic scholarship. The three time Cougar letter winner and All-American excelled in distance.
While competing for Houston, Ryan set new school records in the 1,500m, 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase. He was a nationally ranked competitor and participated in 12 national championships. No doubt Ryan had the endurance for distance, the agility to make it over steeples, and the speed to compete at the national level.
Former head track and field coach, Tom Tellez, remembered Ryan as "a kind individual that would do anything for others and he was a tough competitor."
Ryan was an Olympic trials qualifier for the 5,000 and steeplechase in 1972 and the steeplechase in 1976. In 1972, he received the Metropolitan Award, which is given each year to standout athletes in the New York metropolitan areas.
After graduating from UH in 1967 and finishing his track career, he returned to his alma mater to become the cross country and distance coach.
"I hired him right away and he was with me my whole time at UH. He related well with the athletes and was very knowledgeable about distance running," Tom Tellez said.
Ryan coached at Houston for 26 years and served as meet director for several track and field and cross-country meets.
His life was short-lived as the Cougar great passed away in 2008 at the age of 63.
"Howie Ryan was all about his athletes," former athlete, Kyle Tellez recalled. "He would run with us during workouts, and he pushed as both a coach and training partner."
Ryan's contributions not only as an athlete, but also as a coach and mentor serve as a lasting legacy to the Houston cross-country and track and field programs. He will forever be remembered for his ability to motivate and lead by example.