George Ryan, Elmo Steinert and the bond of coaching, family
Call them brothers from a different mother. They are the sons of sisters.
As cousins, they are as close as any relatives can be. The families lived close together in the Irish Channel.
For the past half century, George Ryan and Elmo Steinert have been virtually inseparable, perhaps spending as much time with each other as they have with their wives.
Both grew up together on 2nd Street in New Orleans, attending St. Alphonse Grammar School, Redemptorist High School and Loyola University.
Ryan started his coaching career as an assistant coach at St. John Prep in 1970 under Henry Rando. He went to Rummel as a defensive assistant in 1971 under Don Perret and became the head coach of the Raiders in 1983, serving in that capacity until 1989. He remained at Rummel for the next five years, despite being relieved of his duties as head coach, displaying unbridled loyalty to a school he loved.
Ryan went to East Jefferson as an assistant in 1995 under Rando and he has remained there since as an assistant coach, continuing today under Frank Allelo. When Ryan got to East Jefferson, Steinert was already a coach with the Warriors. The cousins were reunited.
“We first started together at St. John Prep in 1970 with Henry,” Ryan said. “Elmo went to Redemptorist while I went to Rummel with Henry in 1971. When Elmo left Redemptorist, he want to Brother Martin. When I became head coach at Rummel in 1983, Elmo came to Rummel to work with me. Elmo left Rummel and went to East Jefferson with Henry and when I left Rummel, I went to East Jefferson with Henry.”
Steinert remembers St. John Prep well.
“Henry and Kevin Trower were there,” Steinert said. “They were great coaches and influences. Though we had young men who wanted to be priests, we had some athletes, too! St. John Prep produced three archbishops. It served a great purpose. It was an honor to work there.”
After working at Rummel together, the cousins were back together for five years at East Jefferson before Steinert left and went to Grace King, only to return to East Jefferson and then to Patrick Taylor while Ryan remained at East Jefferson. Elmo is now coaching at Dutchtown, where he has been for the last six years.
Ryan remains the defensive line coach at East Jefferson, where he was part of a staff that won the 2013 state championship in Class 4A, a marvelous story. It was the first and only state title in football in school history. He is entering his 50th year as a coach at the high school level.
“It was a magical season with Coach Nick Saltaformaggio,” Ryan said. “Coach Rando gave Nick his start in coaching and he became a really good coach and still is at Hahnville. I could not help but think of Henry and Elmo when we won it all that year.”
In 2012, Archbishop Rummel captured its first state championship, going unbeaten to win the 5A title in the final LHSAA combined playoffs (select and non-select schools). In 2013, Rummel won the Division I state title while East Jefferson captured the 4A title. While Ryan was an integral part of it, Steinert felt like he was part of it as well, even at Dutchtown.
“I was proud for George and just as proud for Jay Roth,” Steinert said. “I love Jay Roth, Randy Roth and Easten Roth. They are great people. I am so proud of them. I love George and Henry Rando and Nick as well, having worked with all of them. They deserved winning it all so much. It was really something to see both Metairie schools win state titles in 2013.”
Elmo’s father and George’s father were best friends and each married sisters. They worked together all of their lives after serving in World War II. The families lived three doors from each other.
“Our fathers worked together for years,” Steinert said. “Both of our dads worked together at Southern Pacific Railroad. They were like brothers. George is like my brother. He always has been. I was an only child.”
That carried on through the sons, who lived doors from each other for many years in Metairie on North Turnbull Avenue. That ended after the events of August 29, 2005.
“After Hurricane Katrina, Elmo moved up to Dutchtown,” Ryan said. “I was going to move up there but I decided to stay here in my home in Metairie and remain at East Jefferson. That was the first time that our families had not lived near each other. It was strange, to say the least.”
Sue Steinert passed away on April 11 of this year. She was the Homecoming queen at Redemptorist when Elmo was also a student there. They met and the rest is history as they spent 50 years together, happily married.
“We have been on Gonzales since 2005,” Steinert said. “Sue and I enjoyed our life here. I really enjoy working at Dutchtown but I really miss Metairie as well.”
Ryan met his wife, Carol while in college. They are going on 51 years of blissful marriage.
“My wife went to St. Joseph’s Academy in Bay St. Louis,” Ryan said. “I guess that broke the symmetry in the story. My wife spent a lot of time with Sue. They became great friends, which was only natural.”
Steinert is forever grateful for the support of his spouse.
“Carol and Sue were like sisters,” Steinert said. “We both had what you would say are the perfect coach’s wives. They supported us totally and took care of our families while we worked. We were both very fortunate. I miss my wife.”
Despite the distance between East Jefferson (Metairie) and Dutchtown (Geismar), the cousins remain as close as can be.
“We talk virtually every day,” Ryan said. “We still get together for virtually everything when we have free time.”
Steinert had a hard time remembering a week or even a day where he has not spoken to Ryan.
“Now that you mention it, we always talk,” Steinert said. “You just take it for granted. We talk about coaching, life and about our families. There is no better person to speak with.”
Ryan’s brother, Norman, also coached in high school at Ridgewood Prep. It is in the blood.
Along with Steinert, the Ryan brothers did everything together as a trio and that remains the case today.
“Elmo is very loyal and he works extremely hard,” Ryan said. “He is a team worker. He always strives for perfection. He gets the kids to be the best they can be every day. We are cousins but we are like brothers. We go on vacation together with my brother, Norman. The three of us do everything together. It has been great sharing our lives together. While we are apart, we still do a lot together.”
Steinert cannot remember a time without being around Ryan.
“We hung out with each other virtually when we were born,” Steinert said. “We both lived on 2nd street, across from Clay Square. It was a great childhood. The memories are still pretty vivid. You always remember good times. By the way, George is a tireless worker as well, just an outstanding coach who cares about his players.”
Steinert are thankful for those who mentored them and provided opportunities in the coaching industry.
“I got to work with great head coaches in Henry Rando, Don Perret, Bill Chimento, Easten Roth, Bobby Conlin, and Benny Saia,” Steinert said. “That is some list of some of the best coaches in Louisiana prep football history. George worked with many of them as well. We have been blessed and fortunate.”
Ryan gushed about the relationships as well.
“You talk about great influences,” Ryan said. “Henry knew football and was as prepared as any coach I have ever known. Don was disciplined and meticulous and built a great program at Rummel. Bill was an outstanding coach and man at Redemptorist. Easten is my friend and a great coach. We just celebrated his 80th birthday. Bobby was an outstanding coach and organizer. Nick built a championship team here at East Jeff.”
As the boys from the Irish Channel enter into the latter years of life, the bond that began on the streets of New Orleans continues. The brothers from a different mother are like no other. They are inextricably tied to New Orleans, Metairie and to the coaching profession as good, honest, hard working family men who have served a tremendous mission in helping shape the lives of thousands of young men.
“I wouldn’t trade any aspect of what I have done in coaching or in my life,” Steinert said. “George has been a big part of it and always will be. He is my best friend and always will be. There is no doubt about that. It has been a privilege and an honor to teach and coach so many young men. When my wife passed away, I got over 200 texts from former players. It was emotional for me.”
“Elmo is my brother,” Ryan said. “I love him as much as anyone could love a brother. We have a special relationship. I could not imagine him not being a part of my life.”
The brothers from a different mother still love each other.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…