Like father like son: Ronnie McHenry named head coach of Washburn golf

Ronnie McHenry takes over as head coach of Washburn’s golf team after being hired in August 2021.

It’s rare that a college will  hire someone to be the head coach of its golf program who has experience on the sideline of a college basketball national championship, but that is exactly what Washburn did when Ronnie McHenry was hired to take over as the new head coach after Jeff Stromgren retired over the summer after nine seasons with the Ichabods.

Ronnie is the son of women’s basketball Head Coach Ron McHenry, who has been in the position for 22 seasons. Longtime fans of the women’s basketball program probably saw the younger McHenry on the sidelines and around the bench while growing up, including during the teams 2004-05 national title run.

That does not mean that the younger McHenry has not had his share of successes leading him to where he is now. McHenry was a part of the golf team at Washburn as a player from 2012-16. After a few years away he would return as a volunteer assistant coach on the team prior to the 2019-20 season where he would stay until this fall. McHenry embraced the time in that role and used it to learn anything he could about coaching.

“I always took it as seriously as I could,” said McHenry. “As far as recruiting and on the course stuff I was very involved … I was good at communicating with the players so he (Coach Stromgren) kind of let me do what I needed to do and the guys liked hearing from me.”

Initially after getting the job and being blown away by the messages of congratulations, Ronnie, or ‘Bubba’ as he is often called around the office, was still getting used to some parts of the new position.

“It’s a different title now, so you just hear the word coach and you’re like oh, I guess that is me,” said McHenry.

While his father, Ron, does not claim to give helpful golf advice, though he was the golf head coach at Washburn for eight years before moving to basketball, he has and is always willing to help Ronnie with the different aspects of coaching.

“If he needs something I’m definitely there for him, but he knows that, and that’s good for him to know as well because there is more to coaching than just knowing the game,” said Ron McHenry.

While the elder McHenry acknowledges his ability to help as an advisor, he also recognizes the benefits that Ronnie’s new position has afforded him. One of those is to continue to watch his son grow in his professional career like he did his playing career and smaller things like seeing his car in the parking lot.

“His office is close to the end, so if I have to go by it to pick up stuff off the printers, I do see him and stick my head in there, just to see how he’s doing, but it is comforting to have him here,” said Ron McHenry. “He just hasn’t gotten into the routine of buying lunch.”

Although the relationship between the two is loose off of the court and course, neither wanted to create a competition between the two programs and instead they hoped that a competition would end in a tie and a national championship for each. That mindset has been one that Ronnie has had since he was a child growing up around Washburn athletics.

“On the weekends it wasn’t like we were KU or K-State fans, you know we were Washburn fans,” said Ronnie McHenry. “It’s important to me and my family, the school and the athletic department.”

After reaching the third round of the NCAA Tournament last year and finishing in the top 25, the team is not a stranger to success. One member of that team, Ian Treblicock will be joining McHenry as a graduate assistant coach for this season. That combination of factors leaves McHenry excited and optimistic about the season.

“There will be ups and downs I’m sure throughout this year, but I think they are all ready for it and ready to compete,” said McHenry.

Two weeks into the season the Ichabods already have one top-3 finish as a team, which included an individual course winner, and have placed in the top half of both tournaments as a team. A strong start for the second McHenry era of Washburn golf.

Edited by Ellie Walker, Katrina Johnson