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Nolan Ryan didn’t have to look too far for extra motivation heading into his final year of wearing the red and white at the province’s largest high school.
The multi-sport athlete is competitive and driven to succeed. He also was hoping to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Dominique, and his father, Joe, as Charlottetown Rural High School’s male athlete of the year.
“I have been looking forward to it since Grade 10, knowing that my brother and my dad won it, so I was hoping I would win it this year as well,” Nolan said.
“It means everything. It’s a big accomplishment for me. I am honoured to receive the award after Dom and Joe got it as well.”
The 17-year-old ran cross country and played baseball, volleyball and basketball in 2019-20. He was likely to compete in badminton, rugby and track and field in the spring had the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic not cut the school sports season short.
In June, teachers Stanley Chaisson and Ian Barnes made an unsuspected stop at the Ryan home in Sherwood to present him with the male athlete of the year award and record the presentation for the online banquet.
“At the time, I was very surprised. I wasn’t expecting it,” an appreciative Nolan said. “I have worked for this award. … (But) there were many people that could have won it as well.”
Older brother Dominique also wore many uniforms at the Rural, including track and field, cross country, baseball, basketball, volleyball, rugby and badminton. He was the male athlete of the year in 2013-14.
“It was definitely a big honour,” he said. “Looking back at it, we had so many great athletes that year and so many great teams.”
He was happy to see his brother have fun and win the award at a school with 1,070 students.
“It’s good on him. I know he worked hard for it, too, and he really wanted that award,” Dominique said. “It made me very proud to know that he got that award as well.”
Both were rookies of the year in Grade 10, and Dominique earned the Shaul Gyori spirit award in Grade 11.
Both captained teams during their Rural days but did it in different ways. Nolan was a lead-by-example type of player, while Dom was a more vocal player who held his teammates accountable.
Joe was the male athlete of the year in 1984-85 and pointed to how far things have changed in sports. When he went to school, student-athletes usually only participated in one or two sports. His were volleyball and badminton.
“When these kids go play school sports, they really commit to school sports,” he said.
Dominique and Nolan both had understanding coaches who allowed them to be involved in multiple sports. Both played volleyball for their father.
“They appreciated that because they wanted to do as much as they could for any sport that they played,” Joe said. “For them, I can imagine the school year would go pretty quick.”
Joe just didn’t wear the uniform and get his diploma from Charlottetown Rural, he stayed involved.
He pointed to his primary volleyball coaches, Reid Burke and Dave O’Hanley, as influences on him.
“I learned a lot from them, and that's actually a reason why I continued on and coach because of them,” he said. “Once I graduated, my coaching career kind of started.”
It included a run with Burke at the 1987 Canada Games in Cape Breton, N.S., and then at arch-rival Colonel Gray for a year before a position opened up at his alma mater.
“As soon as that carrot was dangled, it didn't take long for me to say I’ll be there next year,” Joe said, noting his appreciation for the opportunity at Colonel Gray.
He began coaching volleyball at The Rural in 1989 and has been there since, except for a six-year stint at UPEI.
Joe, who is also a top-level volleyball official and baseball umpire, has done the circuit and is now coaching kids of former players. Some have suggested to him, it would be easy to walk away from the Raiders now with his children all through at the high school.
Those people don’t know Joe well.
“My answer was, ‘I coached here long before my sons ever got here and I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon’,” he said.
Did you know?
- The Ryans are the first to have three members of their immediate family win the male/female athlete of the year awards at Charlottetown Rural High School since 2015.
- Mark Lloyd was the co-male athlete of the year in 2015. His sister, Tressa Lloyd, was co-female athlete of the year in 2010, while their brother, Ryan Lloyd, was male athlete of the year in 2009.
The family has a rich sporting history in the province.
Joe’s father is the late Charlie Ryan, Charlottetown’s recreation director from 1966 to 1986 and a P.E.I. Sports Hall of Famer. He was a great baseball player, coach and Toronto Blue Jays’ regional scout and would become known as Mr. Baseball in the province. A Hillsborough Rotary Club award is named in his honour, and a memorial rock at Victoria Park honours the builder’s tireless efforts.
While the genes are definitely strong, it doesn’t guarantee achievement for future generations.
“Everyone’s success has to be earned,” Joe said.
He married Paulette Arsenault from the Evangeline region. She ran cross country and played volleyball and badminton.
They have three children.
Keesha, 22, is the middle child. She was involved in figure skating, gymnastics and piano. She is now a high-level figure skating coach.
“I’m proud to say (with) all three of our kids, athletics have been a part of their lives,” Joe said. “I’m pretty proud of them.”
Following are the recent award winners from the Charlottetown Rural High School athletic awards banquet:
- Female athlete of the year – Devon Lawlor
- Male athlete of the year – Nolan Ryan
- Frank J. Costello Award – Emma Stanley and Carson Gray
- Shaul Gyori Spirit Award – Chuck Gallison
- Female rookie of the year – Sydney Lawlor
- Male rookie of the year – Caleb Gagne
- Top female juvenile runner – Harlee Bradley
- Top female senior runner – Reese Kelly
- Top male juvenile runner – Caleb Gagne
- Top male senior runner– Riley Fitzpatrick
- Female MVP – Lindsay Doiron
- Male MVP – Landon MacCallum
- Coaches’ award – Colin Blanchard
- MVP – Tyler Taylor
- Most improved player – Ashlyn Kelly
- Melanie Coulter memorial MVP award – Megan Batchilder and Lindsay Doiron
A girls’ soccer
- Most improved player – Lily Hickey
- Aaron Jarvis MVP award– Amy Plagenhoef and Jamie MacAulay
AAA girls’ soccer
- Coaches’ award – Maci Ross
- Alan Godfrey memorial MVP award – Mary Cate Dodds
A boys’ soccer
- Coaches’ award – Cole McKeigan
- MVP – Owen Matheson
AAA boys’ soccer
- Most improved player – Noah Burhoe
- Lowell Stewart MVP award – Jonah Bartlett and Shaurya Badana
A girls’ volleyball
- Most improved player – Lily Aitkens
- MVP – Maddy Cochrane
AAA girls’ volleyball
- Most improved player – Abby MacDonald
- MVP – Evie Thompson
AAA boys’ volleyball
- Coaches’ award – Carson Gray
- MVP – Nolan Ryan
AA girls’ basketball
- Coaches’ award – Jaiden Encina
- MVP – Emma Stanley
AAA girls’ basketball
- Most improved player – Cassidy Hurley
- MVP – Devon Lawlor
A boys’ basketball
- Most improved player – Lawson Docherty
- MVP – Alex McCarron
AA boys’ basketball
- Most improved player – Carson Gray
- MVP – Alex Ryan
AAA boys’ basketball
- Most improved player – Daniel Quinn
- Dale Farish MVP award – Jose Crisostomo and Kalon MacDonald-Wood
Red letters – Juliet Arsenault, Megan Batchilder, Anna Brazil, Ansleigh Clark, Madison Cochrane, Hailie Cormier, Lauren Curran, Mary Cate Dodds, Katelyn Doyle, Sophie Hayes, Menley Jay, Nicole Jay, Hannah Lawlor, Sydney Lewis, Erin MacKay, Kaylee McCabe, Emma Murnaghan, Megan Newson, Maci Ross, Madison Snell, Mia Stewart, Isabella Tatlock, Evie Thompson, Drew Trainor, Testimony Agunbiade, Shaurya Badana, Jonah Bartlett, Daniel Barry, Owen Brown, Noah Burhoe, Jose Crisostomo, Daniel Collins, Riley Fitzpatrick, Garrett Hebert, Reesce Hunter, Zach Hughes, Adam MacKenzie, Alex McCarron, Noah Poirier, Owen Power, Morgan Redmond, Bradey Storey, Rhyan Storr, Felix Theriault, Jake Watson and Andrew Williamson
White letters –Taylor Mitton, Devon Lawlor, Steve Chapman, Thomas Docherty, Matt Linzel, Alex Ryan and Nolan Ryan
PEISAA academic achievement awards:
- Top male – Noah Poirier and Shaurya Badana
- Top female – Hannah Lawlor
- Award recipients – Shaurya Badana, Owen Brown, Jonah Bartlett, Alex Ryan, Riley Fitzpatrick, Reece Hunter, Nathaniel Ing, Noah Poirier, Emma Murnaghan, MaryCate Dodds, Hailie Cormier, Lauren Curran, Hannah Lawlor, Taylor Mitton, Evie Thompson, Devon Lawlor, Sophie Hayes, Madison Cochrane, Mia Stewart, Anna Brazil, Andrew Williamson, Juliet Arsenault, Madison Snell, Erin MacKay, Menley Jay, Nicole Jay, Sydney Lewis, Isabella Tatlock and Morgan Redmond