It’s rare to play four years in any varsity sport. It’s even more unusual to be a four-year starter.
Well this was the case for Burroughs High volleyball player Danielle Ryan, who was named Pacific League Player of the Year, CIF Southern Section first team and All-Area first team this past season.
Ryan was an outside hitter her senior, junior and freshman campaigns and a middle hitter as a sophomore.
Ryan’s final season was unforgettable as the Indians advanced to the Division II-A quarterfinals against Serrano, went 20-10 and 14-0 in league play.
“I would say that the team and myself accomplished all of our goals for the season,” said the soft-spoken Ryan, a two-year captain. “We wanted to take the season one match at a time and that would eventually lead to the Pacific League championship, which we took, undefeated.”
Ryan, who had 120 kills in a dozen league encounters, knows what to do on the floor.
“I loved being one of the leaders,” said Ryan, who will play volleyball at San Francisco State and major in communications. “I think there was some added pressure that came along with it, but I never really felt it.”
Ryan went on: “I was a pitcher [at Burroughs] in softball and I think that truly taught me how to properly handle pressure and keep my composure in some stressful situations.”
Because Ryan was a four-year starter, the 6-foot leaper was always in the middle of the action.
“Being a part of such a close group of girls and making lasting friendships definitely stands out to me when I look back on playing high school volleyball,” she said. “Also, playing for my school in front of a crowd that always had such great school spirit was awesome.”
Part of Ryan’s responsibility was to keep the squad together. “My role on the floor, along with being a captain, was to lead by example and keep the team, and myself, focused on the match,” she noted.
No doubt there are highs and lows, but a few contests stood apart.
“The one match that I will always remember was my freshman year and we were playing Cypress High School in a CIF first-round playoff match,” said Ryan, named all-league second team as a junior and honorable mention as a sophomore.
“It was an away game and it was a pretty far drive,” she said. “I remember most of the team fell asleep on the bus and woke up just before we walked into the Cypress gym. We lost the first two games and came back and won the next three games to move into the second round of the CIF playoffs. It was such an intense and crazy match.”
Ryan, whose favorite athlete is three-time Olympic Gold medalist in beach volleyball and Stanford graduate, Kerri Walsh Jennings, said one more stood out.
“Another match I will always remember was the Arcadia match at Arcadia my senior year. It was a pretty emotional match that went to five games,” she pointed out. “They were such good competition and we were battling for a full clinch of the league title.”
But few surpassed the intensity of facing one’s arch enemy. “Playing our city rival Burbank High School was one of my favorite parts of every season,” Ryan recalled. “It was crazy how many people showed up to the games. The support we had was unreal. I loved playing in front of the huge crowds because they just added so much energy.”
And life lessons were learned along the way. “High school volleyball taught me how to work well with others and what it takes to be a leader,” Ryan said.
Was high school what Ryan thought it would be? “Looking back I wouldn’t do anything different in high school,” she said. “I had great experiences and was lucky to be a part of some amazing teams that really added to the great memories I will always have from high school.”
Ryan always went full bore. “My teammates would say that I was always positive on and off the court,” she said, “and that they could always come to me for anything.”