He was an assistant under Hughes at Virginia Tech and picked up the role as the program coordinator when he came to Norman.
“The response has been amazing,” Connolly said. “You start to see it throughout the course of the spring, the people that are here, because they’ve seen what we’ve done they want to come out and support these guys because they’ve done so much great for the community.”
Connolly understands Hughes’ drive to honor his mother. His father, Michael, died of lung cancer when Ryan was 15. The Connolly family established the Michael E. Connolly Endowment for Lung Cancer Research to honor Michael.
“You’re going to go through life and there’s going to be a ton of different things that inspire you — hopefully the majority of those are good things but some of them are things that you wish weren’t there. Obviously his mom passing was what inspired this but it was more her legacy and what she did when she was alive,” Connolly said. “That’s the same thing with me and my father. They were both extremely giving, selfless people. I guess those qualities are probably naturally going to be placed upon us and this is the result and we’re never going to stop.
“It’s going to grow. It’s going to grow big.”
The 19 Ways program lives on at Virginia Tech and is now firmly established in Norman.
Hughes’ next goal is to take the program national.
Notre Dame baseball is expected to implement the program next year, as is Delaware football. Northeastern University in Boston, where Hughes was an assistant football and baseball coach from 1991-96, is planning on making 19 Ways part of its program as well.
“My goal is to get 19 Ways chapters all over the country,” Hughes said. “It’ll be with me for the rest of my career.”