Ryan was a kid that continually proved me wrong over his career. At age 14, I remember having a meeting with him and his parents and he discussed what his baseball goals were at that time. Looking back, I remember thinking his vision was a little far-fetched. I did tell him candidly that it was going to take a lot of hard work to get to those levels and abilities he was talking about. To his credit, he worked as hard as anyone I've had since that day. I remember when he came back after his freshman year over the winter, I was blown away at his ability, especially defensively and how he transformed his body. He really attacked the weight room and it showed. His maturity also stands out to me and is another one of those kids who always seemed to be self motivated and was easy to coach. He was alway receptive to constructive criticism which is a huge credit to him as that is something that is hard to find these days in young people. I see Ryan regularly at the facility over the winter break working on his skills and I'm excited to see where he commits to (4 year school) after his last year at CLC this spring. To learn more about Ryan, see our Q&A's with him below...
*What is your favorite baseball memory from your travel baseball experience?
"My favorite baseball memory is definitely hanging out in the hotels and experiencing the different cities that we traveled to. I have made lifelong friends who I still text and talk to weekly. Travel baseball showed me 5 different states and hundreds of different cities that I would have never seen if not for baseball. The times in the hotel pool, deck, and lobbies will be something that I can always look back on with buddies and share a laugh and a smile. Also included in that would be the long road trips and even flights with family. Those times spent bonding were priceless."
*What’s your favorite thing or aspect about college life?
"I enjoy the free time that is available to use at will. It provides a freedom but also is a great test of your time management abilities. With the free time at school, you can get really good at whatever you want, such as playing an instrument, baseball, or any other hobby you enjoy. Even with classes and the work that goes into them, there is still an abundance of time to spend on hobbies."
*What’s your least favorite thing or aspect about college life?
"My least favorite thing to do with school is the repetitiveness of the practices as well as classes. I like to have some variety and each week of school is rather similar. Often on weekends I try to switch things up or do out of the ordinary activities to keep life interesting. It is a double-edged sword as I enjoy the daily grind, but it also does get boring."
*What’s one thing you wish you would have known going into college?
"I wish I knew that all the players were in the same boat as me. I was very nervous but so was everyone else, so I just needed to stick to my game and perform to my abilities. I also wish I knew that just because someone said something, doesn’t mean it is true. There are tons of players who talk a big game, and will try and win the mental battle, but when you get on the field or in the weight room etc. words can only get you so far. Overall, the best thing to do is just play your game and worry about your own skills and abilities."
*Whose been your biggest influence on your life to this point?
"Besides my parents who would be the easy answer, and very well are at the top of the list. One guy who I would be doing a major disservice to if I didn’t mention would be Teddy Van Thiel. He was my speed coach and trainer back in travel ball days from around age 14 on. He wasn’t just a trainer though; he has been a life mentor and has been there for me every day since as well. He showed me what a hard-working honest man is. Teddy was always putting in extra work to better himself as a person and reach his physical goals even after his competitive career was over. Teddy pushed me like no other trainer while still keeping the training sessions fun. I still have contact with Teddy and discuss our daily lives and always get some words of wisdom from him. He shaped me as an athlete and provided a stepping stone to get me where I am athletically today. He is also a stand-up dude and a great father. Overall, he is someone I look up to greatly and strive to replicate many things he does in his life as well as treat people the way he treated a younger me as well as the way he treats others."
*What advice would you give to a younger baseball player who wants to play at the collegiate level?
"The best advice that I could give would be to be a student of the game in every facet. Always be looking to learn every aspect of the game and strive to master the things you learn. Even the best players are always bouncing their pitch grips etc. off each other and are figuring out ways to better their game. If you constantly are getting better physically, mentally, and skill wise, your ceiling is limitless. There are so many parts of the game that can be furthered no matter where you are at, you can always improve the 5 major tools. Lastly, I think it is very important to take pride in the gritty drill work and small things. Lock down defense plays at every level, and that is often overlooked, especially at the younger ages, all anyone wants to do is drop bombs. Do the daily drill work and finesse drills with purpose and precision and you would be amazed at where it can take your game."
*What are you majoring in?
*I am majoring in Business with a minor in Sales. I plan to take baseball as far as it will go then transition my passion into business where I feel that all the skills and discipline which I learned in baseball will translate well and provide a solid career which will provide for myself and hopefully a family.*
*How did playing travel baseball prepare you for college baseball?
*Travel baseball provided many different aspects which prepared me for college baseball. The first thing it prepared me for was playing a lot of games in a short period of time. We play nearly 7 games every single week, so playing in tournaments where we played 6 games in 4 days is right where we are now and im prepared to handle the tax on the body. The next thing it prepared me for was being mentally okay with sitting. Nobody wants to sit in games but the higher you go up the more inevitable it will be. I played on very talented travels teams where I had to sit innings and at the collegiate level its no different, where you will sit until you prove yourself as a starter. Being able to be a good teammate when sitting is a tough thing but something that needs to be learned and is crucial to team success. The last thing it prepared me with was the acceptance of failure. Travel baseball placed me against the toughest competition in the states and put me in front of draft picks. College is no different, and the game is a tough game. However, once you are able to accept failure as a daily thing you encounter in baseball, it makes the success so much better. The last thing that travel baseball taught me was that there will be tons of different backgrounds and life experiences of each teammate. We are all raised in different cities, with different family dynamics and baseball experience. However, we all want a similar goal and that unites us in a special way. In college the diversity is magnified from where people are from etc. but we all still have so much in common and that is great to experience. This will also translate to the work world as coworkers never come from the same walk of life, but at the company they all have a similar goal in mind and that brings them together."
*What is something people may not know about you?
"Something not a lot of people know about me is that I have a semi rare heart condition that is something I was born with and will carry with me the rest of my life. It is not something extremely dangerous in the short run but is something I will eventually need to have medically corrected with heart surgery. I have bicuspid aortic valve, which is a defect in the valve which takes blood from the heart to the body. A fun fact baseball related is that the previous Yankee player and now manager Aaron Boone also has the same condition."
*Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
"In 10 years, I see myself as a much-improved version of myself. I constantly am striving to grow as a human in every facet of my life, spiritually, physically, mentally and so many more ways. I try to live in the now so it is very difficult to make a prediction that far in the future, but no matter where I am in life, I know for sure that I will still be a happy person who strives to enjoy life and also bring a smile to those around me. In 10 years, I hope that I will be well into my adult life and would love to have a kid or two of my own to share life with and enjoy all the blessings that come with being a father."