Obituary: Ronald Joseph 'Cy' Cygrymus / Longtime basketball coach at Canevin High
Died Nov. 27, 2011
Friday, December 02, 2011
By Michael Sanserino, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Some coaches can't hide their emotions on the bench. Tempers sometimes flare, be it the result of a bad call or a mistake by a player.

Not with Ron "Cy" Cygrymus. The longtime basketball coach at Bishop Canevin found success by being cool and collected, his former pupils remember.

"A lot of coaches on the sidelines are fiery in emotional times," said former player Jack Burik. "He had his own demeanor. He was relaxed, but he was knowledgeable. He got his point across. It was just what his kids needed."

Mr. Cygrymus died Sunday after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 73.

As a coach at Canevin, he led the Crusaders to Pittsburgh Catholic League championships in 1967, '68 and '69. The '69 team went 24-0 and won a Catholic state title. All five starters on that team, and another player who came off the bench, earned Division I athletic scholarships.

"That whole year was obviously something special," said Jack Wojdowski, a Pittsburgh attorney who was a senior in '69. "It was fun. We had a great time with him."

Mr. Cygrymus worked at Canevin for 40 years, serving as a teacher and vice principal. He retired in 2000.

As a coach, one of Mr. Cygrymus' biggest challenges was taking a group of individuals from parishes throughout the area and turning them into one team.

"He demanded a lot of respect," said Mr. Burik, who is coach of the Montour girls' basketball team. "Things back then were a lot different. Parents didn't have the input back then that they do now. He was strong enough as an individual. What he said went. There was no doubt about it."

He attended St. Adalbert High School and later Duquesne University on a basketball scholarship. For years, he sat in the same seat at the Civic Arena watching the Dukes basketball team, said Mr. Wojdowski, who also attended Duquesne on a basketball scholarship.

He later earned a master's degree in secondary education from the University of Pittsburgh.

Mr. Cygrymus' former players remember him as a physically imposing man who seldom needed to raise his voice to convey a message.

"He was a very strong guy, physically," Mr. Wojdowski said. "When he grabbed you at practice, you couldn't escape. It was like a vise. He got your attention real quick. He didn't have to yell much. You knew."

But as much as he will be remembered for his coaching acumen, Mr. Burik said his former coach was an even better person.

"He was such a gentleman," Mr. Burik said. "From the coaching and teaching standpoint, he was such a well-respected man. There's something to be said for people like Cy. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who could come up with a negative word about him."

He is survived by his wife, Theresa; daughters Pamela Vogel, Beth Kassalen and Debra Zaparoni; two sisters; and three grandchildren.

Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. today in St. Adalbert Church, Prince of Peace Parish.

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