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Athletic Hall of Fame Spotlight: James Ryan '98

James Ryan is a St. Andrew’s soccer legend. By the time he graduated in 1998, Ryan, a formidable forward for St. Andrew’s, had scored 101 goals and earned a spot on the All-Met First Team, a rare feat for any local athlete.
But when asked about his favorite sports accomplishment at St. Andrew’s, it wasn’t the PVAC banners in soccer and basketball, or the undefeated 1996 soccer season, or even that coveted All-Met honor. It was the opportunity to play in the first Francisco Hope Tournament, which honored the memory of his friend and St. Andrew’s alumnus Francisco Hope `94.
“I think that his career speaks for itself as far as the athlete that he was and the type of person he is – the ultimate team player and just an all-around good person,” said his brother and former teammate, Josh Ryan `96.
James will be inducted into the St. Andrew’s Athletic Hall of Fame on October 13 as part of the 40th Anniversary Reunion Weekend. The third class of Hall of Fame honorees, which include Ryan, the 1992 girls soccer team, and Coach Ginger Walsh Cobb, will be recognized during the Celebration Dinner on Lion’s Court.

James’ future success on the field was evident years before he started playing for St. Andrew’s. During one his first youth soccer matches, James said his mother made a deal with him – for every goal he scored, she would give him a dollar. James would score eight goals in that one match.

In middle school, James practiced alongside the varsity players, including his brother Josh. He would play varsity soccer all four years and, as captain, lead the team to PVAC titles in 1996 and 1997.

“When a team goes 51-16-6 (over four seasons), and they have a 100-goal scorer, you know how big a part he was of the school’s success,” said Charlie Malcolm, former St. Andrew’s history teacher and soccer coach.

Malcolm, who coached James throughout his St. Andrew’s career, described James as an “incredibly competitive and dexterous” player.

“His game was really balanced, in the sense that could bend those shots thirty yards out, dribbling through traffic, and have a cheeky head ball into goal,” he said. “He just instinctively knew where to be to finish and scored goals in all sorts of ways.”

James said his favorite memories of St. Andrew’s soccer were playing alongside talented peers he had grown up with and, in some cases, competed against on club teams. As a captain, James was committed to doing what was best for the team, Josh said.

“I think a lot of people, a lot of teammates, looked up to him. They knew they could trust him to be a good leader,” Josh said.

Soccer wasn’t James’ only sport; he was also captain of the basketball and lacrosse teams and led the basketball team to win the PVAC title in 1996. He enjoyed playing sports year-round at St. Andrew’s, so much so that he quit club soccer in tenth grade so he could continue playing basketball and lacrosse.

“He’s the type of athlete that you could make up a sport and he would figure out how to score and win,” Malcolm said.

James went on to play four years of Division II soccer at Barry University. He played in 69 matches, tying for 13th most in school history, and helped his team advance to the NCAA Tournament three times. Again, it was the players that made James’ experience on the field fulfilling.

“The best part about playing at Barry was the diverse group of players we had,” James said. “There were kids from all over the world that were on that team, and the fact that we were able to come together and have that success was pretty amazing.”

Today James lives in Miami and works for an outdoor furniture company. His sports are fishing and golf, although he occasionally plays indoor soccer and competes in the Barry alumni soccer game.

James said St. Andrew’s gave him a well-rounded education and guided him as he explored his place in the world. Malcolm said James gave St. Andrew’s a lot too, especially as the school was departing the Bradmoor Campus for Postoak.

“Just the timing of the success of the program, but also James’ was a really great way to make that transition and really add some energy and excitement for the school,” Malcolm said.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private, coeducational college preparatory day school for students in preschool (Age 2) through grade 12, located in Potomac, Maryland.