Ron Selesky Returns to Gladiators as Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator
VETERAN COACH WILL ALSO RE-ASSUME PLAYER PERSONNEL DUTIES AS GLADIATORS CONTINUE TO ADD TO ROSTER
The Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League announced on Wednesday the hiring of Ron Selesky as Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator. Selesky returns for his second stint with the team after previously serving in a similar role for three seasons from 2011 to 2014.
“I’m excited to be back in Cleveland…The Gladiators organization has always treated me well,” said Selesky. “As much as I enjoy scouting on a full-time basis, I definitely missed coaching. I missed being able to build those bonds with your players and seeing them take what you’re teaching them to the field and succeed.”
Selesky was named the AFL’s Assistant Coach of the Year in 2014 after helping lead the Gladiators to a historic 17-1 regular season, an American Conference Championship and a trip to ArenaBowl XXVII. During that run, Selesky commanded a defense that allowed a mere 43.4 points per game, the third-fewest in the AFL that season, and recovered a league-high 17 fumbles en route to the AFL’s third-best turnover margin (+16).
“That was probably the most fun that I’ve had coaching,” said Selesky. “We were able to take what we had in 2013, a very young team, and turn it around by adding some parts and accomplishing what we were able to accomplish.”
Cleveland’s vaunted ‘No Fly Zone’ defense held their opponents to under 50 points in 14 of the team’s 18 regular season games played in 2014.
Gladiators COO/Senior VP of Franchise Operations Mike Ostrowski believes that Selesky was the key driver of instilling a hard-hitting, tough, and physical mentality on the defensive side of the ball for the Gladiators.
“Ron’s passion and dedication to the game is infectious,” explained Ostrowski. “In our historic 2014 season, our players quickly bought into [Selesky’s] vision and philosophy. We were a team-first group and consequently became one of the toughest defenses to play against in the AFL. It’s really his mindset that he instills in his players. He puts them in the right position to succeed both on and off the field and then he unleashes them. I know he and Coach Thonn will have our team playing very fast and aggressive. It will be great to have him back in the fold with us.”
Gladiators head coach Steve Thonn echoed those sentiments when talking about Selesky.
“I’m very excited to have Ron back with us this year,” Thonn remarked. “We have known each other for a long time and work incredibly well together. He brings a great deal of Arena Football knowledge to our staff and he also excels in his ability to instill toughness and attitude into our players, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.”
Some of the characteristics Selesky prides himself on is not only being a great teacher on the field but having the ability to build strong relationships with his players off the field and get them to buy into the process of building a winner.
“One of the things I really try to do when I’m building relationships with guys is to take a vested interest in them off the field,” said Selesky. “I want to get to know them not just as a football player but as a person. If you look at the ages of these guys, most of them are in their early to mid-twenties. They’re still, for lack of a better term, growing up and trying to figure out who they are. I feel I am in a position where I can impact that and quite honestly, I feel that that is in my job description.”
Current Gladiators defensive back Brandon Stephens didn’t hesitate to express his excitement over hearing the news that Selesky had returned to the team.
“In my mind, Coach Selesky is the biggest acquisition yet for the Gladiators this off-season,” Stephens explained. “Coach Thonn and Selesky set the bar on how to manage and coach players and when a player feels comfortable with their coaching staff, it makes the team that much stronger and embraces that family atmosphere.”
Not only does Selesky provide a wealth of insight from a coaching perspective, but also brings to the table extensive experience in football operations. Selesky returns to the AFL after spending the 2015 season as a U.S. scout for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. While in Saskatchewan, Selesky recruited rookie LB Jeff Knox, the CFL’s second-leading tackler in 2015.
Ever committed and devoted to the Gladiators organization, Selesky is already hard at work for the team, evaluating talent at the Senior Bowl practices this week in Mobile, AL.
“Even at this level, I don’t know if there is a true off-season anymore,” said Selesky. “What you do when your season ends is you catch your breath, go home and re-charge your batteries. Here at the Senior Bowl, I’m scouting guys that are not necessarily players I’m going to have a shot at this year, but some of these guys could be available in 2017.”
Former Gladiators defensive back Dominic Jones spoke of Selesky with great admiration when asked about his former coach’s knowledge of the game and ability to recruit players.
“Ron Selesky has a tremendous rapport with athletes all over the world,” declared Jones. “His knowledge of the game is second to none and he is a player’s coach. Both of those qualities are vital to being successful and are the reason why he is able to recruit great talent year in and year out no matter where he is at.”
“I’m fortunate to have been in this [business] for a while,” Selesky added. “I’ve developed a lot of contacts in the NFL, CFL and college, so I try to make sure I utilize and maximize all of the resources that I have at my disposal…To put the best product on the field that I possibly can.”
Ostrowski has seen the results of Selesky’s work on and off the field first-hand.
“Ron’s player personnel expertise and relationships within the NFL and CFL, as well as his connection with the players he recruits are huge,” said Ostrowski. “He knows the nuances of the Arena game and knows how to identify, recruit and develop talented, committed players that want to play in Cleveland – these are exactly the type of players we have on our team and that we will continue to bring in as part of the Gladiators family.”
Prior to joining Cleveland, Selesky was the Defensive Coordinator/Director of Player Personnel of the Grand Rapids Rampage in 2008. He boasts several years of Arena Football experiene in both head coaching and assistant coaching positions.
Selesky began his Arena Football coaching career as Director of Player Personnel and Assistant Coach for the AFL’s Tampa Bay Storm from 1997 to 1999, helping lead the team to a 31-11 overall regular-season record and a 1998 ArenaBowl appearance. He then took his first head coaching position with the af2’s Louisville Fire in 2001 and, the following year, earned af2 Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Albany Conquest to a 13-3 regular-season mark and a Northeast Division title.
A Brunswick, N.J. native, Selesky spent several years as a defensive lineman at both the collegiate and professional levels. He played collegiately at North Central College before moving on to the NFL where he played in two games for the Minnesota Vikings in 1987 and attended training camps with the San Diego Chargers in 1988, the Miami Dolphins in 1990 and the Detroit Lions in 1992. From there he spent three years (1995-97) as a scout for ProQuest Management before embarking on his coaching career.