Ray Ganong, who for more than three decades has been one of the most popular figures involved in University of Louisville athletics, announced his retirement from strength and conditioning coaching on Friday.
After helping Miami football win national championships in both football and baseball, Ganong arrived at Louisville in 1985. For the next 33 years he worked with Cardinal athletes behind the scenes and also became a fan favorite at the end of the bench during men’s basketball games.
Though Ganong’s unrivaled intensity was always on full display during games, off the court, he was among the most approachable figures on Floyd Street.
“I’ve been working with Coach G for nine years, and I’ve never seen the man have a bad day,” said former Louisville point guard Peyton Siva. “He is the kindest man that have ever met. The genuine love that he shows for complete strangers makes you want to be a better person.”
Though he initially came to U of L primarily to work with Howard Schnellenberger and Cardinal football, it was within the famed Louisville basketball program where Ganong wound up becoming a fixture. He began working with Denny Crum in 1997, and then continued with Cardinal hoops when Rick Pitino arrived in 2001.
In the 16 seasons that followed, Ganong helped Louisville make three Final Fours and win the 2013 national championship.
“I used to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to try and beat Coach G to the weight room,” Siva said. “Of course by that time he’d already had a full workout with his mouthpiece in and socks pulled over his bloody shins.
“Coach G has changed so many lives and can never be replaced. I am so thankful that I was able to get a chance to work with Coach G and build a relationship strong enough to call him a good friend.”
Ganong retires as one of the few strength coaches in American sports history to have played a role in national titles in three different sports — football, basketball and baseball. He was NSCA Conference USA Strength and Conditioning Specialist of the Year in 1998, he has lectured on strength and conditioning both nationally and internationally, and his writing has been published in the National Strength and Conditioning Association Journal.
We’re all going to miss you, Coach G. You’re the best.