Thursday's Conversation With San Diego State's Ryan Muno
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Welcome to Thursday’s Conversation. Each week, one Mountain West student-athlete will be featured by answering a series of questions.
Joining the conversation this week is San Diego State’s Ryan Muno. The senior from El Segundo, California, is a first baseman on the Aztecs baseball team. Muno was chosen to wear the late Tony Gwynn’s No. 19 for San Diego State’s season-opening series versus Valparaiso, which begins on Friday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. PT and can be viewed live and for free on the Mountain West Network.
Question: You were chosen to wear Tony Gwynn’s number to open the season. What went through your mind when you found out, and what does it mean to you to wear that number?
Answer: It’s a privilege and an honor. I played for Coach Gwynn for three years and was around him every day, so I saw what the No. 19 meant to San Diego State and the city of San Diego. I’m really humbled by it and am going to try and wear the number to the best of my abilities. I know this is going to be a lifetime experience; something I’ll be talking about for a long time.
Q: What was last season like for the team with all the emotions surrounding Coach Gwynn, his health and ultimate passing?
A: I think it hit us by surprise when he did pass away. Throughout the season we didn’t think he would; we thought he’d get through it. The emotions didn’t really affect us when we were playing because we went out there to play for him and his values and what he stood for as a coach. I think that showed by us winning the Mountain West Tournament and going to (NCAA) regionals.
Q: Speaking of emotions, San Diego State is really doing a lot of great things to pay tribute to Tony Gwynn as the baseball season gets underway. How do you focus on what you have to do on the field with everything that is going on before the games?
A: I think throughout the summer and fall we got over the mourning process and not having him; now we’re in the process of honoring him and passing on his legacy to people that didn’t have the chance to know him. It’ll be a fun weekend and we’re all excited to play for him.
Q: What was Tony Gwynn like as a coach?
A: There’s really two kinds of coaches; the hard-nosed and laid-back. Coach Gwynn was in the middle. He’d get on you if you did something wrong but he’d tell you what to do differently. It really was the best of both worlds. He had that calming aspect about him. You can see it in our team and how quickly we made adjustments and that’s because of him. He was always willing to talk with you about how to improve on the field, but sometimes he’d just have you go figure it out on your own and more often than not you did because you had all the tools.
Q: You were struck a couple of times by the injury bug last year, most notably when you suffered a concussion. Was it difficult sitting out games and how did that time away affect your off-season plans coming into 2015?
A: The concussion was hard to deal with because I pretty much sat in a room for six weeks and couldn’t do anything. Baseball is a sport where you have to be consistent to be successful and going six weeks without picking up a bat or lifting a weight was tough. I grinded through it the best I could after I got back. After the season was over, I focused on getting stronger and really worked hard towards this year, and I think the results showed in the fall. I’m ready to get going in the spring and am 100 percent healthy.
Q: What are the goals for the Aztec baseball team this season?
A: Our goal this year is to win the Conference outright after winning the tournament the last two years. We also want to win a regional. It’s nice to win the tournament, but winning outright would be pretty cool.
Q: What do you attribute to being named a MW All-Academic honoree each of your first three years at San Diego State?
A: I take pride in academics and I really like to get good grades. I think that’s key to be successful in the classroom is to take pride in what you’re doing as well as managing your time.
Q: What do you like to do to get away from baseball?
A: Almost anything outdoors. Usually, I’ll get together with a group of buddies and we’ll either hunt, fish or golf. They’re all good ways to clear you head and get away from the game for a little bit.
Do you have a student-athlete you’d like to see featured in an upcoming Thursday's Conversation? Contact Dan Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.