— Submitted photo
Jordan Ryan may be the only player from the west coast to secure a spot on the provincial Under-15 male basketball team, but his coach figures he will play a key role in the team’s success on the hardwood.
The 15-year-old Grade 9 student at G.C. Rowe Junior High was named to the 12-member team at a training camp for prospects during the Easter break.
“I think Jordan is probably going to be one of the leaders, if not the captain of that team,” his coach Blair White of St. John’s said. “He’s got great leadership skills, he’s got a great work ethic and his skills are getting better every time I see him. I’ve watched him for the last two years now and he’s improving consistently.”
Ryan started playing hoops in Grade 3 at Sacred Heart when he was added to the school’s Grade 6 team as a spare because of a player shortage. He didn’t get to play a lot of minutes, but he spent a lot of time honing his skillset at practice and played a few games from time to time.
It’s a game that has defined him as a person. He spends two or three hours every day working on his game.
“I fell in love with playing basketball and ever since then that’s pretty much what my life revolves around,” he said.
He hits the gym at every chance to throw around the ball and he plans on keeping up a hectic pace as the provincial team gets ready over the next few months for the biggest event of the year — the 2014 national Under-15 male basketball championship July 23-31 in Edmonton, Alta.
“As much time as I can get playing basketball I will because I know that will only make me better as a player and how I am going to nationals that’s what needs to be done for me to be a better player,” he said.
Coach White heaped praise on Ryan for being a solid player who defends and rebounds well while being a threat on offence in transition. But, he said, like so many other young talented players his age, there is work to be done to take his game to another level
“He needs to get more consistent knocking down the outside jump shot, which is pretty much everybody at this age,” said coach White, who played varsity basketball for St. Francis Xavier as a young hoopster. “They’re starting to get half decent at it but nobody is consistent yet. To really get good you need to knock down that three-point shot consistently.”
With the remainder of the team based in St. John’s, coach White has been impressed with Ryan’s level of commitment because he knows it’s not easy to travel back and forth to attend training camps in St. John’s several times a year, or stay in the city for an extended period of time to train with the boys. He acknowledged that players from the west coast don’t have it easy when it comes to training with the team because of the expenses associated with travel and accommodation, and this was something coach White discussed with Ryan’s mom in the early going to ensure the level of commitment expected of the players.
“It’s an extra burden on the family no doubt about it,” coach White said. “Jordan’s parents got to figure out where he’s staying the weekend and how he’s getting home Sunday whereas the guys in town can ride their bike if they have to.”
Ryan, son of Susanne Dawe and Brian Ryan of Corner Brook, will be heading to St. John’s in June where he will spend the summer throwing hoops with his teammates in preparation for the national stage in Edmonton.
Fortunately, he will be staying with a teammate for the duration so a little bit of stress for the parents will be alleviated.
Then again, with this young man’s passion for the sport, he would have found a way because basketball is certainly his game.
For a young guy who lives and breathes basketball, he’s willing to make any and all sacrifices to get the most out of an opportunity he’s just happy to be afforded at this time in his life.
“It’s just such an honour to be on the team because not many people get the opportunity to compete at a provincial level or go to nationals so it’s just an honour for me to represent Newfoundland,” he said.