Grand Island Vikings varsity boys basketball Coach Ron Krysztof announced he is stepping down from his position Thursday evening.
In a text, Krysztof said his decision was based on waiting spending more time with his family.
“GI has been beyond awesome and the kids have been fantastic," Krysztof said. "Just with my kids' ages, it’s time to take a pause being a full-time head coach.”
Krysztof had success in his eight years at the helm of the Vikings. During the 2016-17 season, his team made it back to Buffalo State College to play in the Section VI semifinals for the first time since 2009. That season, Grand Island went 15-6.
Of his decision, Krysztof said: "The biggest part of stepping down was time with my family and their own sports interests. My daughter is in middle school in the Frontier district being heavily involved in softball and basketball. My son is a few years behind involved with baseball and basketball.
"As all coaches know, coaching basketball is a year-round commitment, which includes spring tournaments, summer leagues and workouts. They always seemed to be pulling at each other, so it was time to go all in for my family.”
Additionally, he said he plans on coaching his son’s Hamburg Little Cagers team, and he didn’t rule out a return to the high school sideline at some point as an assistant.
Reflecting on his time at Grand Island, Krysztof said one of his favorite moments occurred in 2016 when the Vikings defeated Niagara Falls on the road.
“Team wise, my favorite game memory on the court was the year we beat NF when they were top ranked. This is the same year we made it to Buff State. I have the utmost respect for NF’s team, program, as well as (former head coach Sal Constantino) and that team," he said."
“As I sit here and think further, my personal favorite memory is taking Cam Sionko’s 1,000-point picture with Cam and Jon Roth. Two of my favorite people in the world. I wouldn’t trade that moment for anything."
All in all, Krysztof said he was grateful for his time as a Grand Island Viking.
“I would like to thank the Grand Island community for embracing me as one of their own. It couldn’t have been a better experience. The district was awesome, the parents were awesome and, most importantly, the kids were beyond awesome to coach," he said.
"A special thanks to Jim Sionko, who helped out the program in many different ways, as well as became family. Also, Kevin Kulikowski, who has been not only a great assistant, but a true friend. Lastly, a very special thanks to (GI athletic director) Jon Roth. You always hear people say great things about Jon. Not only is every word true, but once you get to know him, the way he operates while supporting his coaches, he’s even better than one can even imagine. (He’s) simply the best.
"I would like to thank all of the coaches in the NFL. They are all great coaches and off the court great guys. It made coaching that much more fun and even harder to walk away from."
The coach received praise from Roth, who said Krysztof was an incredible role model and a class act.
“Ron has been a blessing because you don’t find many non-teacher coaches that the kids, parents and administration buy in to, especially when it’s not a winning program. His coaching style was all positive reinforcement, never singling out or embarrassing a player," Roth said. "And he was an official’s dream coach where he never yelled at officials for any bad calls, but kept his cool on the sidelines and would politely ask the official about a call.
"Ron is a true gentleman and really got nothing but high praise and respect from Niagara Frontier League coaches, Section VI coaches and the entire board 53 officials organization."
Additionally, Roth said the new opening will be a topic of discussion at an upcoming meeting. Junior varsity coach Chris Simpson would be a good bet to be considered.