COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Ryan Day’s rise in the coaching ranks from quarterback at the University of New Hampshire to head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes is remarkable. And his wife and partner for life, Christina, who goes by Nina, has been with him every step of the way.
On December 3rd, 2018, Nina and Ryan Day’s life changed when he was named the 24th head coach of the Ohio State football team.
“We’ve never really experienced anything like Ohio State football until we got here,” said Nina. “It’s on a level on its own.”
But Buckeye Nation embraced the Day family from the beginning with open arms, which made the transition easier.
“We have an 11, 9 and 6-year-old, so with their schedules and just making sure that the focus stays on them a lot of times because this job can kind of overpower everything,” said Nina.
It’s a job Ryan has prepared for his whole life. And Nina would know.
“We grew up about a mile apart in Manchester, New Hampshire. We went to the same elementary, junior high and high school. We were on the same t-ball team from when we were 6 years old in 1985,” said Nina. “We were kind of just very good friends growing up. We both had a passion for sports. We went to the prom together and then it just kind of blossomed into something later on in college.”
When Ryan’s football career ended, Nina knew coaching would be his next step.
“I always tell myself the minute I want to complain about anything, I always go back to I knew when we were little that this is going to happen,” said Nina. “So I really can’t complain about it.”
Nina is the daughter of a former Division II college basketball coach, Stan Spirou, who served as head coach at Southern New Hampshire University for 33 seasons. So she understands the profession.
Ryan and Nina are now using this platform for good, helping to bring attention to mental health among children and young adults.
“A year ago when he was named head coach, we sat down and though about what he was truly passionate about because if you’re passionate something, you can make a big difference,” said Nina. “We’re hoping that more people start talking about it and generate more awareness toward mental health and the importance of it so that parents of kids of all ages can start talking about it.”
Nina noted that studies have shown one in five children develop mental illness at a very young age so having these conversations earlier in life is important.
Ryan and Nina donated $100,000 toward the On Our Sleeves initiative by Nationwide Children’s Hospital that supports children and young adults living with mental illness. And that donation helped start the Christina and Ryan Day fund for Pediatric and Adolescent Mental Wellness at the hospital that according to the website, “will help raise awareness, increase educational opportunities, inspire advocacy, and be a role model for donating to a cause that has historically been ignored.”
The topic of mental health is meaningful for Ryan, who lost his father to suicide when Ryan was just 9 years old, so he knows first-hand the impact it can have on a family.
Their investment into the hospital is just further proof of how they hope to be in Columbus for years to come.
“Every day Ryan wakes up, he feels very, very grateful to be a part of The Ohio State University,” said Nina. “We all do. My kids have traveled all over the country and this is the kind of the first place all 3 of them are very, very happy. And they talk about the high schools they are going to go to so Daddy doesn’t really have a choice!”