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  • Matt Ondesko

Embracing the process

By Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor Photos: Charlotte Athletics

Tyler Ringwald is enjoying some of his best football in a place he probably never thought off he would be playing at when he was at Bishop Timon High School.

Sports has a funny way of doing that to you.

Ringwald, a standout receiver and defensive player at Bishop Timon, never thought he would be playing his college football at a school like Charlotte, but sometimes life has a lot of different peaks and valleys that a young man has to navigate.

That’s exactly what Ringwald did.

At Timon, Ringwald was all over the field. He did whatever the coaches asked him to do. Play receiver on offense he did it. Play defensive end, sure why not. He just loved the game and the game loved him.

His football career after Timon took him to the University at Buffalo (redhshirt year) and then to Erie Community College. While at ECC, Ringwald flourished as a wide receiver. He took the position by the storm.

He led the Kats in receiving with 45 catches for 696 yards and eight touchdowns. He posted three 100-yard receiving game and blew up with 172 yards and three touchdowns against the College of DuPage.

While raw at the positions, those numbers drew the attention of a school in that was new to the Division I game. Charlotte hasn’t been a DI football school for long. They don’t have the football tradition like some of the others schools down in that area in North Carolina or N.C. State.

Charlotte has had to build from the bottom up. They have endured their fair shares of up and downs, like most new programs. But, they are determined to make it at the DI level. They are kind of like Tyler Ringwald raw but with a lot of talent and potential.

You could say it was a good fit for both player and program.

“It has been great,” stated Ringwald. “Coming down here you kind of knew what you were getting into it. They have only been around for about seven years. You have to come down here and work and grind. No one is going to respect you until you establish that culture. We have been doing a great job establishing that culture and building that program We have been doing a great job making that Charlotte brand known.”

Ringwald knows that it is like to grind for everything that he wants. After spending a year at UB, the Timon grad went to work at ECC. It can be a humbling experience for any DI athlete to leave a school and go back to a community college to get their work in.

This is something that Ringwald felt he needed. There is zero ego with him. He didn’t care what other people might say about his decision. This was about what was going to be the right thing for him.

He went to ECC without an ego. He went to ECC to punch a clock and get to work. Ringwald knew to realize his dreams of playing DI again he would need to grind and show the coaches he had what it takes to make it to the next level.

“I believe it was a much needed step that I needed to take,” stated Ringwald. “I believe that I needed a little bit more time to develop as a player. Playing at ECC allowed me to get a better feel for the game. Allowed me to develop more as a player. Allowed to go up against some of the best players in the country.”

The one draw back about playing for a community college is that players could just be about the themselves. Every player is looking to get to the next level, this is why they play at a two-year school. Being able to put aside these ego, and my first attitude, can be hard at times.

Building a winning culture, and showing coaches that you are team first player, goes a long way when college coaches are looking to recruit you. Ringwald could have easily been all about himself. He could have demanded the ball on every play.

He knew, however, that if he put in the work that good things would happen.

“You know it’s hard. Everyone has dreams and aspirations to play at the next level,” stated Ringwald. “When I went to into ECC I as ranked as one of the top receivers and I wasn’t getting looks. So, it was a little bit disappointing, but at the same time the coaches did a great job with the guys believing in one another, and at the end of the day we were all out there trying to get wins.”

The funny thing about Ringwald playing receiver is that he didn’t know where he was going to play. At Timon, Ringwald played pretty much wherever the coaches wanted him to play. He lined up at receiver, outside linebacker, defensive end and even quarterback.

It wasn’t until he got to college that Ringwald though that receiver wad the way to go for him. I’m sure the coaches at Charlotte are happy with his decision.

“Honestly, I saw myself as a little bit of both,” stated Ringwald. “Me being a bigger type guy, at receiver you have to be a little bit more flexible and you have to be able to get in and out of cuts, and that is something that I struggled with - and that I continue to work on. Whereas a linebacker is kind of allowed me to be myself. Because I had that receiver background I was little bit more athletic and I think I was able to showcase my athletic ability.”

This season, Ringwald is a big part of what Charlotte is doing on the offensive end. Last year wasn’t the case. Last season, Ringwald was finding his way through a DI season. He was used here and there, but not a lot.

Thankfully, Ringwald had the redshirt year at UB to fall back on. Not playing during that season allowed him to get through last year. He didn’t sulk last season, he just put his head down and kept working hard to show the coaches why they recruited him in the first place.

“Thanks to my redshirt at the University at Buffalo it instilled a mature factor where I was able to sit behind at that fifth year senior and where I learned a lot from him,” stated Ringwald. “He was a mentor for me and I think that’s why I was able to get off to a fast start this season. We all want to go out there and play, but everyone knows that to be able to go out there and play you need to learn from somebody else.”

Gearing up for a successful season meant that Ringwald needed to look at himself to see what he needed to work. He needed to look at his game as a whole and see what he could do to make himself a better player on and off the field.

Self evaluation is never easy, but sometimes it’s needed.

“The biggest thing I focused on, and what I think everyone should focus on, is your imperfections,” stated Ringwald. “Acknowledge what you don’t do well. It’s just as important as focusing on what you do well. This offseason I worked on those little things. Everyone who plays at the Division I level is good. It’s focusing on those little things that separates those that are good from those that are great.”

Great is something that Ringwald wants to be and he has his eyes set on the next level. Like most college athletes, Ringwald wants to test himself against the best and that means playing in the National Football League.

Not many athletes who laced up the cleats at Timon has made it to the highest level. He wants to be one of those that can. If you have seen his career so far, I wouldn’t put anything pass him.

“One hundred percent (playing at the next level). Every kid does,” stated Ringwald. “It’s something that I work toward day in and day out. I just go in and embrace the grind and embrace the process, and hopefully it will work out.”


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