Ralph was recently named one of the top ten coaches in the nation after being nominated by the Indianapolis Colts for the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award.
Ralph, along with the 31 other coaches, were recognized by their local NFL club for the prestigious award named after the winningest coach in NFL history for their character, integrity, leadership, dedication to the community, commitment to player health and safety and on-field success.
“I was really proud, obviously, just to be named in the top 10 is just a really cool honor to nominate me first, and then for such an esteemed panel like they had for the Don Shula Coach of the Year award to select me as top was amazing,” said Ralph, who is 88-4 with three state championships in seven years at the helm.
The distinction further put New Palestine on a national map, something Ralph said he has quickly learned has already happened.
“I do think even more amazing is that a lot of people knew New Pal when I got there because of the things we’ve been able to accomplish. Obviously, social media helps out with those things, but a lot of people knowing who I was or what our program was about on a national scale was really cool,” Ralph told Giant FM.
As a nominee, Ralph was invited to attend the 2020 Pro Bowl in Orlando and received VIP access at various events like practice.
“The week down there was amazing,” said Ralph, who added while he enjoyed meeting coaches from around the country, there was something that more special to him.
“Being able to share that experience with my son was really a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I think it is something that he will never forget, all the players that he met and the football he got to experience, but as a dad, it was something that I’ll never forget, being able to share a lot of that with him and give him a really unique experience into the NFL and the Pro Bowl week,” Ralph said.
Ralph, who spent time with the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers following a successful career at the University of North Carolina, admitted he didn’t reflect much on what could have been.
“It was a little bit of a talking point between my son and I that we’ve probably never addressed before that I had the opportunity to play in the NFL and I chose to obviously not continue to pursue, but as far as any emotions of my short time playing, not really. I enjoy the sport of football as a fan and as a coach, and I enjoyed all the sport gave me so having any feelings of emotion or regret for what didn’t materialize really never crossed my mind,” Ralph told Giant FM.
At the end of the day, while he didn’t earn the distinction as national coach of the year, Ralph said the experience was more than enough for him.
“It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have full access to some of the greatest football players in the entire world. It was a wonderful memory that I am going to be able to share with my family and my son, and, hopefully, that memory will stay with me for a long time,” Ralph told Giant FM.