New athletic director brings energy to Minnehaha based on his experiences in Texas, Iowa and the Middle East
“We were in the playoffs my senior year in high school,” Minnehaha athletic director Homar Ramirez recalled. “It was the bottom of the seventh and the bases were loaded. It was two outs, so either it was going into extra innings or the game [would be] over and we would win.
“Our number nine hitter was [up to bat and] I was on deck. The guy on the mound throws a ball right at the ribs of our batter. He dives out of the way.
“The crowd gasped. That’s what’s so vivid in my mind, the gasp. He was our catcher, and he dives out of the way of this pitch that [would win us] the game. We [lost] in extra innings because this catcher dropped the ball.”
This team went on to win the state title.
“It was funny, frustrating and aggravating,” Ramirez said looking back.
He adds that while he couldn’t see it then, this game represented the rest of his life in some ways. Ramirez says that other people will always have an influence on things out of a person’s control but it’s important to realize how to deal with situations that don’t go exactly as planned.
He also said it taught him to surround himself with people professionally and personally that he knew he could trust to handle situations in the best way possible.
Ramirez began at Minnehaha in December following the retirement of Ken Anderson, who worked at Minnehaha for 33 years.
Ramirez played his infamous playoff baseball game for Robert E. Lee High School in Baytown, Texas (just east of Houston) where he grew up. He has always loved athletics and playing baseball, partially because of his high school coach.
“My coach, Coach Harrington, was a strong believer,” said Ramirez. “It was a public school so you couldn’t openly talk about Christ but the example he was really made an impact on my life. He was one of those people that I will always remember and try to emulate.”
The field at Robert E. Lee High School is now named after Coach Harrington.
“[He] really showed me [how] through adversity as a believer you should handle situations,” Ramirez said. “[He] also showed me how God honors you in different ways.”
Ramirez thinks of this man as a foundation for his faith, which he said was lacking in high school.
“We went to church every Sunday [but I never had] a personal relationship with Christ,” Ramirez said. “I had friends in high school who engaged me in great conversation about faith and Jesus and introduced me to their church. On March 19, 1993, I remember accepting Christ.”
This influenced Ramirez’ decision to attend Northwestern College in Roseville, where he played baseball with assistant athletic director Josh Thurow.
At Northwestern Ramirez majored in finance and received a degree in Bible. Immediately after college he accepted a position at a Christian school in his hometown as athletic director.
After this Ramirez thought he wanted to be involved in higher education athletics.
“You have these ideas that at the University of Minnesota it’s bigger, therefore it might be better. There’s more money that might attract different coaches and opportunities,” said Ramirez. “I bought into that.”
This led Ramirez to work for Texas A&M University in the Middle East, where Ramirez, his wife and their young children were stationed at a branch campus in Doha, Qatar.
“We’re really thankful that we had the chance to see the world from a different perspective,” said Ramirez, adding, “We’re grateful that we’re United States citizens.”
After three years in Qatar the position at Minnehaha became available, and Ramirez spent two and a half weeks with Ken Anderson learning about Minnehaha’s athletic department, which he found extremely helpful.
“In what he did for me professionally in that short period of time we also developed a pretty good friendship,” said Ramirez. “[Being athletic director] for 33 years, [he was very knowledgeable] and he made me aware of some situations that existed that would have taken me some time to figure out.”
Ramirez believes that support from families and coaches are a major part of what makes Minnehaha’s athletic department so successful.
“The coaches that are assembled at Minnehaha Academy are strong,” Ramirez said. “I’m super excited to get to work with [them].”
Ramirez’s colleagues feel that he is a fantastic fit for the position.
“Mr. Ramirez has great energy and he’s very insightful,” said Thurow. “He’s an ideas guy and he wants to maximize Minnehaha’s athletic program.”
“He’s been great so far,” said boys’ basketball coach Lance Johnson. “He’s passionate, and I think the kids have had the same first impression that I’ve had and that’s that he’s going to be a great athletic director.”
Ramirez is also enjoying the students.
“[The best part of working at Minnehaha] is the students,”said Ramirez. “The part that [I] enjoy is the impact that you get to potentially make on young people’s lives.”
One of Ramirez’s goals is developing the athletic department’s facilities. He considers the weight room a “travesty” and is focused on its improvement for the athletic program participants.
Overall, Ramirez is pleased with the transition to Minnehaha.
It hasn’t been perfect,” Ramirez said with a laugh. “But no place is this side of heaven.”