MSMC Knights: Work Hard, Play Hard
by John Buckridge
When a student decides to play a sport and become a student athlete, the first thing he needs to consider is whether or not he can handle both responsibilities and commit fully to both the team and the academics. Some students find it difficult to properly balance school with sport, and both sides suffer. It takes a specially driven person to play two or more sports in college and keep up with the workload —a person like Mount Saint Mary College graduate student, Kevin Ryan.
Ryan has been a versatile athlete from a young age, playing baseball, basketball, hockey, lacrosse, track, soccer and tennis. He managed to narrow it down somewhat in high school, playing only soccer, track and tennis. He competed at the varsity level for four years in each sport.
When it was time to go to college, Ryan found that Mount Saint Mary College (MSMC) was the only school to recruit him for two sports, and he decided to play both soccer and tennis as a Knight. He was confident that not only would he excel in both sports at the Mount, but he would succeed as an accounting major as well.
As a freshman, Kevin felt the pressure to immediately perform in the fall season on the soccer team. The head coach at the time, Doug Stahl, played Kevin in all 16 games and started him in 15. Kevin stood out above the rest of the freshman crop of soccer players by scoring three goals and recording three assists, also establishing himself as a vocal leader on the field.
He performed in the clutch from the beginning, scoring a game-winning goal in overtime against Centenary College on Sept. 16 of that year. Kevin made the Skyline Honor Roll that season, and was named Player of the Week during September.
As a sophomore, he continued to deliver by adding two more goals in 14 starts. By his junior season, Ryan had solidified himself as a consistent performer by starting in every game for the first time and adding another two goals to his collegiate total.
As a tennis player for MSMC, Ryan was put to work right off the bat his freshman year, playing in 13 matches; he posted five wins at third singles and four wins at first doubles. For his efforts, he was named to Skyline Honor Roll and earned the title of MSMC Rookie of the Year.
The following season, Ryan recorded a singles record of 9-7 and teamed up with Zach Conlon for a 9-7 record in doubles as well. He went on to have another promising start his junior year, kicking off the season with a 2-0 singles record and a 3-1 doubles record before it was cut short.
Playing multiple sports finally caught up to Ryan. One night that spring after tennis practice, he went straight to a second practice, for soccer; a practice that he was not obligated to attend because he was technically in tennis season. Ryan tore his ACL while performing a routine drill during that soccer practice.
Not only was Ryan’s tennis season over, but he also learned he would have to miss six months and the start of his senior soccer season. Not being able to participate in his sport deeply upset him.
“I just wasn’t myself,” Ryan reflected, “Not only could I not play my favorite sports, but I am just an active person in general and not being able to do anything that I wanted frustrated me.”
He underwent intensive surgery right away in order to keep hope alive of playing soccer in the fall. In November of 2012, just as his knee was feeling better, he accidentally fell down a flight of stairs and re-injured his ACL, requiring him to have a second knee surgery and forcing him to start his rehab over from scratch.
Ryan could not play at all his senior soccer season and was forced to red shirt so that he could play again the following season as a graduate student. He did the same for tennis, as he could not get his knee back into shape in time to play tennis as a senior.
While hampered with a demoralizing injury, Ryan devoted his focus elsewhere: his accounting major. He graduated with a 3.4 GPA and a Bachelor of Science in Accounting in May 2013, and made the decision to return to the Mount the following school year for the master’s program.
Since he had red shirted, Ryan was given a second chance to end his athletic career on a positive note by playing both sports one more time, all while earning his master’s degree.
He returned to the soccer pitch with a new role, playing on defense rather than offense, to lend some experience to a defense that had just lost some key seniors. Head soccer coach, Kevin Longacre, only played Ryan in half of the games to try and protect his fragile knee, but Ryan made the most of his limited playing time, contributing to a stellar defense and letting no opponent score on him. By season’s end, he had led his team to a Skyline Conference Championship and closed out his soccer career on a high note.
Only a few weeks into his last tennis season, Ryan has a singles record of 5-2 with a doubles record of 3-1. He wishes to end his tennis career the same way he ended his soccer career and be a part of two Conference Champions.
“We have fewer players than we did last year,” says Ryan, “but everyone seems to be playing at their best early on, so I think we can go far.”
He maintains a 3.2 GPA in his master’s program, and has been consistently going on interviews with several accounting firms and banks, such as McGladrey’s Accounting Firm in Connecticut and Northwestern Mutual of the Hudson Valley.
Kevin has an intense passion to be successful in life which has kept him focused on the big picture throughout his college years. Now, especially with the excitement of a potential career on the horizon, Kevin prioritizes his grades more than ever.
“I want to keep my options open,” Kevin says, “I want to apply for as many accounting positions as I can, and then make a decision that best suits my goals.”
Kevin’s career goal is to one day own his own business so he can come up with his own ideas and concepts.
“I always have new and unique ideas about how I can make money and be successful, and I want to see how many of those ideas I can actually make happen.”
Kevin has offered whatever is left of his busy schedule to the Boy Scouts Program in his hometown of West Islip, NY. A participant since the age of five, Kevin still lends his assistance to Deer Park Troup 157 and has earned the title of Eagle Scout and Junior Assistant Scout Master.
Having made it through college playing for two sports teams, and on the verge of earning his second degree, Kevin chooses to sum up his ride at the Mount by quoting one of his favorite movies, “Talladega Knights:”
“If you ain’t first, you’re last.”