“There isn’t necessarily a drastic difference between JV and varsity,” Ryan said, “but you can tell the difference in the speed at which the game is played and the mental focus of the players on your team and your opponents.” After spending his freshman year on JV and earning Co-MVP, Ryan was moved up to the highest level where he observed much less of a variance between individual players’ skills. “Varsity is generally more even in ability, where on JV there is a noticeable difference between the worst player and the best player on the team.” Ryan clearly held his own at the higher level of play, helping to lead his team to NCS despite losing a large number of seniors the previous year, earning 2nd Team All-League recognition, and beating long-time rival Clayton Valley High School with a score of 4-1. Ryan originally began his baseball journey at the age of five with tee ball and then little league. His inspiration to spend his time on the field flowed from his father. “My dad is big into baseball, and he passed that on to me and my brother,” Ryan said. “I fell in love with it and have been playing ever since.” Ryan also tried his hand at basketball for one year and soccer for five years, but nothing else hooked him like baseball. He ended his soccer commitment when it began to interfere with year-round baseball. “Soccer used to fill the gap in activity in the fall, but baseball took over and I no longer saw a need for any other activity.”
Around the age of seven Ryan’s talent on the mound became apparent, landing him in the pitcher position which he loves and where he still remains. “As a pitcher I’m a big part of the game, whether I do well or I do awful,” Ryan said. “I like that I have some control and make an impact on the game no matter what.” Ryan also plays first base occasionally, where he enjoys scooping up ground balls and being a part of the action. Ryan has always loved team sports better than individual competition because it forces you to work with other people to overcome the odds. “This sounds weird, but I like that baseball is
more of a game of failure. I like to see how people can conquer that. It also pushes me to be better.”
Despite shining as a pitcher, Ryan had considered himself a better hitter than pitcher up until this year. This year a switch was flipped and he views himself as more of a pitcher than ever before. “I think for me it was a slight physical improvement from years past,” Ryan said. “I have more control and have learned not to get so angry on the mound, which is crucial. To play at a higher level I had to get used to some failure which helped me stay mentally focused when things weren’t going my way.” Everyone in high school athletics maintains a competitive spirit, but Ryan expected more of himself than anyone else, which explains his anger when he missed a pitch that he should have hit or didn’t hit his spot from the mound. Another contribution to his improvement was the star starting pitcher, Patrick O’Shea, who is now planning to play for St. Mary’s College. “Having him talk to me on a player-to-player level was different than a coach talking to me,” Ryan said. “He went through some difficult games with bad luck, and seeing him work through that and mentally push through was really helpful.”
When Ryan isn’t working on his athletic skillset, he is putting in maximum effort to maintain a 4.0 GPA. Taking AP World History and two advanced classes in English and Math, along with his sport, kept Ryan’s plate pretty full and didn’t leave much time for
any extracurricular activities. “During the regular season I don’t have much time to do anything else,” Ryan said. “I have practice Monday through Friday and sometimes Saturday. Then we have games on Tuesdays and Thursdays.” However, Ryan does plan to join leadership next year as a junior class representative where his largest task will be to talk to different groups, like his fellow baseball players and athletes, to hear their concerns and be their voice.
As for his junior year, Ryan hopes to excel in his academics and consistently keep a 4.0 GPA. As far as baseball is concerned, Ryan wants to work on increasing his pitching speed, physical abilities, and stats from this year. “Right now I’m in the mindset of taking baseball as far as I can,” Ryan said. “I’m not unrealistic and expecting to make it to the MLB, but if I can play at the college level at a high academic university, that would be ideal. We’ll just have to see how the next couple of years go.”