By Sarah Dahl
This article originally appeared as part of the Homecoming 2012 online feature.
It was with encouragement from his dad—a former college player with a “chance of going pro”—that a four-year-old Ryan Simpson ’13 first started playing soccer. In the following fifteen years, he’s played for various high level teams, and though he’s poised to further his soccer career next year at Yale University, Ryan’s current tenure as goalie and co-captain of Boys Varsity Soccer has not gone unnoticed.
“Ryan is one of the best goalies in the league in my humble opinion,” said Coach Jesse Sarzana ’93. “He is [also] a great leader by example and truly gives everything he has to BB&N soccer.”
Ryan has been on the New England Revolution Academy Team with former varsity player Christian Sady ’14 and recent grad Pablo Espinola ’12. He has also played for FC Boston Bolts with teammate Jamar Noble ‘14.
His tenure with the varsity squad spans five years and includes an Independent School League championship in 2009.
Coach Mathew McDonald said, “[Ryan] does a really great job of reaching out to every kid on the team, making sure they [all] understand their importance and value.”
Team Manager Alec Gustafson ’15 attributes Ryan’s strong play to his spatial awareness on the field.
“Ryan is an incredible goalie due to his positioning,” he said. “At all times he knows where to be on the field due to his strong soccer IQ.”
Ryan is not the only one in his family with the strong soccer skills. Both his father and brother were goalies.
“I fell in love with soccer, going after [my father’s] dream,” Ryan said.
Heading into this weekend’s Homecoming game, the team stands at 2-3-3.
Ryan said that he’s proud of the team and its accomplishments. “We take pride in being hardworking, resilient,” he said. “Everyone fights for each other, everyone fights for the guy next to him, and you can’t ask for much more than that.”
The team’s motto is a quote from Winston Churchill: “Never give up, never give up, never, never, never.”
“That’s Coach Sarzana for you,” Ryan said. “He’s a great guy. We say that before each game and in the locker room, and we really take that to heart, because only by not giving up are we going to be able to continue producing.”
He added that soccer is a passion and also a stress-reliever.
“It’s a way to get away from everything. Every time I’m on the field, there’s something that’s different about it from anywhere else,” Ryan said.
“It’s a place you can go, you’re with your boys, you’re with your team, and no matter what happens, you always have those guys there to support you,” said Ryan.
He described the importance of all the players working together.
“We really have to rely on one another and trust one another to play, because as good as you might be yourself, you’re only as good as the guy next to you and only as good as the other 10 guys on the field. Unless they’re working well with you, you can’t really be a team, you can’t really be successful,” he said.
Next year, Ryan is headed to Yale, and according to Coach Sarzana, he will be missed.
“It has been a pure pleasure to coach him over the last five years,” he said.
Ryan said he hopes to continue playing soccer at university, and the possibility of going professional looms; however, he said that he’s not pinning his dreams on anything specific.
“Everyone’s hope is to be a professional athlete. I was a small-town kid who came and did a lot with a little…when you succeed when you’re not expected to and achieve more than you could ever dream for, you hope to be able to move to the next level. I’ll be happy to get through my four years of college, and if [my career] goes further, it does, but if it doesn’t, I certainly won’t be upset to hang up my boots in the end…I’ve done a lot more than I ever thought [I could].”
Photo: BVS Co-Captain Ryan Simpson ’13 is headed to Yale next year. Courtesy islboyssoccer.sps.edu.