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Morgan Ryan is the 2014 Fauquier Times Fauquier High Girls Athlete of the Year

Wednesday, Jul. 9 | By Fred Hodge
Fauquier's Morgan Ryan played lacrosse and field hockey and ran track. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Probably the most important decision a college-bound senior can make is where to matriculate, but that process can be stressful

So it's understandable when a student battles uncertainty, as an apparently solid decision may not be the choice days later.

For Fauquier Falcon Morgan Ryan , her senior year began last fall with a significant degree of clarity. Then the internal questions began.

During the fall's field hockey season, Ryan was convinced she was headed to Lynchburg to attend Liberty University and continue her field hockey career. By the time spring 2014 arrived, the final picture had changed for the Fauquier Times Fauquier High Girls Athlete of the Year. Now, she will enter Longwood University this fall to play lacrosse.

The Falcon is departing Fauquier after she has amassed 13 varsity letters, including four as a senior. She has earned three letters apiece in field hockey, winter track and lacrosse and one in spring track.

"Each sport has its its own different vibration. I love each of them," Ryan says enthusiastically.

"I was so sure that was where I was going to go," Ryan said of Liberty University, explaining she did not have considerable information at the time. "I had been to Liberty several times for track meets. I thought it was pretty, and I liked the school's Christian-based mission," Ryan began.

She now admits being unsure of her ability to play at the Division I level, so other prospective schools began to appear on the plate. She applied to Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, N.Y., and Salisbury State on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

"I was doubting myself," Ryan said. "Those two schools were totally for field hockey.

"Onondaga is near my stepfather's home. I had heard things about junior colleges being a great gateway to a good college career. Salisbury State is a Division III school and one of the best [in field hockey] at that level.

"Then, I was 'What are you thinking?' New York is too far away" and the fit with Salisbury State did not seem right.

"We kicked those two out, and that left Longwood," the Falcon recalled, noting her family did not have the same ironclad history with a particular school as some do, mentioning how certain schools like Virginia Tech appeal to some families.

Longwood also came recommended.

"My uncle went to Longwood, and the things he told me just felt right...how everyone is close. Plus being a Division I school made it a little more attractive," Ryan said.

Now, clarity had returned, which included a switch from a hockey future to lacrosse.

"It's just like Warrenton," Ryan said of her future collegiate home and the surrounding Farmville community. "I like how everyone is close."

After a very good lacrosse season this spring, Ryan contacted the Longwood lacrosse coach recently and will be a walk-on for the varsity program.

"I met with the coach at orientation. She said I had a place on the team," the future Lancer said. "She said I could help them because of my speed and because of my left hand shot."

Zach Tamburello, Fauquier's girls lacrosse coach, predicts Longwood will benefit greatly from Ryan's future contributions.

"She had a great career here. If Morgan had began playing at seven years old like some, she definitely would have been a recruited Division I player," Tamburello emphasized.. "She got better and better each year.

"She has the potential to be a quality [college] lacrosse player."

Tamburello said Ryan nearly doubled her goal output this spring from 2013, finishing with 46 goals, including six in one game en route to first-team all-conference and 5A all-region honors..

"That's unheard of for a defensive wing," he said, also impressed with her 115 ground balls this season. She also handed out 13 assists

The long hours of deliberations and the occasional angst experienced during the college decisions did not rob Ryan of one of her most endearing characteristics.

She also is an A-plus prankster.

Coaches from all three of her sports noted her propensity to pull gags on the unsuspecting. When she was feeling mischievous, teammates and coaches beware.

"She's a ring leader," Tamburello said, adding the effervescent strawberry blonde has a the ability to keep things lighthearted.

When first asked abut the prank playing, Ryan first responds with a look that says "Who me?' but she eventually agrees to being guilty as charged, but she does not pick on just anyone or do it maliciously.

"I have to know somebody well enough before I start messing with them. You have to feel them out,"she began, laughing as she added "it's so much fun planning to be evil."

"She and [former assistant Brandan] Smoot were always pranking each other," said Falcon field hockey coach Brooke Settle, who recalled an epic battle of the squirt guns between the two.

"We were both soaked," Ryan says now.

Smoot also was a target on one of he program's previous Senior Nights.

"It was Senior Night, and someone bought a cake," Ryan offered. "We spent the entire JV game planning what to do.

"When the game ended, I had this [piece of]cake on a plate," she of approaching him for the attack, hoping to smear it on his face.

"Then I missed him. We had four girls chasing him around. I finally got him.

"It puts everything on a different level," the Fauquier senior said of the practical jokes. "It can be relaxing when someone needs a laugh."

The Early Years

Ryan wasn't always the outgoing personality she is now. Three coaches saw immediate potential, but this senior was more reserved at the beginning of her busy athletic career.

"She was one of those girls who would ask for help," Settle said. "Those are the best girls to have because because they always improve."

"As first look, we didn't know what we had," Ian Lansdowne, who works with the Falcon sprint corps in winter and spring track, said.

"The first thing we noted was her grittiness," he added. "She's mentally and physically tough."

"She was quiet around me," Tamburello recalled of his early dealings with Ryan before she began to bloom. "She has that natural personality. Her friends tend to come to her."

Lansdowne recalled the role Ryan played for the winter track program when a large group of field hockey players showed up for the first time.

"She's such a leader. She bridged the gap between those field hockey girls and the returning girls," he said appreciatively.

Settle, like all of her coaches, said Morgan will be difficult to replace.

"We'll miss the positive energy she brings. Her teammates respond to her so well."

The well-liked Ryan leaves her squads behind after garnering multiple awards in addition to those already mentioned for her senior lacrosse campaign.

Ryan was a captain for both hockey and lacrosse as a senior as well as the most valuable player for those squads. She was an all-conference selection in hockey after earning a spot on the second-team all-state squad as a junior.

Ryan was first-team all-Evergreen District in 2013.

She also was a member of the 2013 winter track 1600-meter relay team that placed fourth in the state as a junior.

As far as highlights, multiple trips to the state field hockey tournament, a district championship in field hockey and and a conference title in lacrosse ("and beating Kettle Run in lacrosse, of course") and the difference type of pressure experienced in track.

"You just can't go out there and expect someone else to pull you out," she said.

For all of her physical feats, and successes, there are the inevitable disappointments.

Ryan cited the field hockey team's inability to advance to a fourth consecutive state tournament last fall and the late spring day when the Falcons were competing in a regional lacrosse playoff the same day as the regional track meet.

She was not at track, but she would have run in the state meet if the relay had placed high enough.

The Falcons lost in lacrosse to end the season and her high school career, while the relay unit did not qualify for the state meet.

"I lost two sports in the same day. That was devastating," she lamented before agreeing this is her time to move onward.

"I'm going to miss Warrenton, and I'm going to miss Fauquier High school," Ryan said. "That's the home of the Falcons, and I'm a Falcon.

"I'm being pushed out of the nest," the student-athlete said philosophically. "I have to learn to fly on my own."

- - - - -

The Morgan Ryan File

Family: Stepfather Billy Weisbrodt is general manager of Summit Motors. Mother Shannon Weisbrodt is a medical transcriptionist. Sister Fallon, 14, will be a freshman at Fauquier this year. Sister Eden, 12, attends Warrenton Middle School. Brother Owen, 10, attends C.M. Bradley Elementary. Sister Peyton, 3, attends St. John's preschool.

Favorite Place: "When I was young, we lived near Marshall. There was a house on 10 acres. It was all woods except for a small yard, garden, pool, a stream and a perfect house. Then we had to move. When I got my license, I would drive out there and see what was going on. There are so many memories."

Favorite meal: Kielbasa and sauerkraut. She also enjoys Stromboli, all fruits, pepperoni, pickles, pizza, pineapple, ice cream, pumpkin pie, smoothies, Reese's, doughnuts, Kung Pao chicken and foods from other cultures and beef jerky.

Favorite restaurants: Chinese and IHOP. "After all my dances, my stepdad would be the one to stay up and pick me up. It would be 12 [midnight], so he would ask if I wanted to go to IHOP. I'd always say 'Sure.' It was a bonding experience."

Favorite music: "Music is my passion. My preferences are really wide. Give me basically any genre and I will find something I love. She named Miranda Lambert, Bon Jovi, Fleetwood Mac, Def Leppard, Bob Marley and movie soundtracks as her favorites.

Favorite movies: "My mother and I would have movie night on Saturdays. She would show movies from the 80s and 90s...movies she grew up with." Favorites include Romancing the Stone, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Tangled. "They were other bonding experiences."

Favorite television shows: "I really haven't watched television. But since sports are over, on weekends I've been [binge] watching older television shows, especially from the 80s and 90s. I don't have to wait until next week to find out what happened." She recently finished the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series.

Favorite subjects: English and history.

Possible profession: "I have a lot of empathy, so maybe something in the health field."

Hobbies: "I read so much. My room is full of books. I wrote a book [unpublished]. I love writing poems It's my own world. Until recently, I did Tae Kwon Do."

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