Dan Ryan, a former CLC men's basketball player, just finished a tremendous career as the head men's basketball manager at Illinois State University (NCAA DI). In his three years with ISU, they earned two trips to the NIT, just missing a NCAA tournament bid after posting a school record for the most wins in a season, finishing 28-7 overall.
Ryan says his experience at ISU was incredible.
"I was able to get hands on experience and learn so much about not only the game of basketball, but about the logistics and operations of a successful NCAA DI program," Ryan said. "As someone who aspires to make a living as a college basketball coach, this opportunity was vital for my development."
The journey for Ryan is only beginning, however. It was recently announced that he accepted an offer to be the Graduate Assistant Men's Basketball Coach at Belmont University (NCAA DI). His dream of becoming a college basketball coach has just been realized.
"I have known for a very long time that this is the path that I want to pursue," Ryan said. "I have an enormous passion for the game of basketball as well as a passion to teach and compete."
The journey did not come easy to Ryan. While remaining humble, he credits CLC for preparing him for living his dream.
"From a basketball perspective, there is no doubt that playing at CLC has made it possible for me to continue to climb the ranks in college basketball," Ryan said. "I got to Illinois State more prepared to work as a manager than I ever would have been without the experience of playing at CLC."
Academically, Ryan says he wasn't prepared to be a successful college student right out of high school. CLC helped develop him as an elite student that is about to start a graduate degree program.
"I tell people all of the time that making the decision to attend CLC was the best decision of my life. I was an awful student in high school that was not ready for life at a four-year institution. While at CLC, I committed to academics for the first time and was able to obtain a 4.0 GPA over my two years," Ryan Said. "As I head to Belmont to pursue my master's in Sport Administration, I know I am well prepared for success in large part because of my two years at CLC."
Playing for Coach Chuck Ramsey at CLC, who is in the Lake County High School Sports Hall of Fame, was seen as a tremendous opportunity for Ryan.
"I knew I was going to get better as a player, but more important for me was the opportunity to learn about coaching from the best coach in the history of Lake County basketball," Ryan said. "I am so appreciative of the time Coach Ramsey and Coach Werly invested in me as a person. Both knew my goal was to coach basketball and they could not have been more open with advice and opportunities to grow as a future coach."
Ryan is correct. His experience as an athlete at CLC was unconventional. He was developing as a coach more so than an athlete. He was a walk-on that didn't see much playing time, but it was him that Coach Ramsey asked to serve as a stand-in assistant coach for a game. CLC assistant coach, Bill Werly, was unable to attend the game due to a health scare.
"A few minutes before tip-off, Coach Ramsey asked if I would sit next to him on the bench and be the assistant coach for the game," Ryan recalls. "This speaks volumes about the type of person Coach Ramsey is."
Coach Ramsey shares equal affirmation for his former player, though this opportunity doesn't necessarily come as a surprise with Ryan's historic work ethic and preparation.
"We are very happy for Dan," Ramsey said. "This is a tremendous opportunity for him, which he has definitely earned. It is a classic example of preparation meeting opportunity and good things happening for a good person."
As he heads to Belmont University to launch the start of his college coaching career, Dan Ryan has advice for current and future Lancer Athletes.
"It's very cliché, but it's so true: Don't take this opportunity for granted!" Ryan exclaimed with passion. "It is such a blessing to get to be a college athlete. While I continue to have great experiences after my time at CLC, I never had more fun in my life than in those two years I got to play college basketball."
Dan Ryan will now have an opportunity to pay it forward as a college basketball coach.