PREP SPORTS: ‘Always give 110%’: Holly Pond’s Carson Ryan recaps sophomore year

Holly Pond’s Carson Ryan. (Martha Needham/The Cullman Tribune)

HOLLY POND, Ala. – In this interview, I talked to Broncos basketball and baseball standout Carson Ryan. Carson shared his thoughts on his sophomore seasons, and he gained a lot from playing with both teams.

“I had a lot of fun last year. I felt that we had a successful season. I’m very grateful I got to be a part of that. We had a great group of seniors. I felt that they were the type of leaders we needed. We accomplished a lot of the goals that we set, with one of those being able to win a tough area. I learned a lot from coach Cory Glasscock, one of the things that I learned from him is being focused on your job. I’m looking forward to this upcoming season and what all I can learn from coach Tim Willoughby,” Ryan said. “It felt great being back on the winning side of things, especially with the great group of guys we had. We worked hard during the offseason and during the season. Our team chemistry grew through those hard times, which I feel like that’s why we were successful.”

Carson took away so much from coach Glasscock and will miss playing for him but at the same time, he can’t wait to start playing for Coach Willoughby.

“He was a great coach, motivator, mentor, and even better person. He really taught me the importance of giving 100% all the time, knowing your role, and the team is more important than yourself. He worked us hard but allowed us to also have fun and enjoy the game. He was very passionate about the game, which carried over to us as a team. He always joked around with us, but he knew, and we knew when it was time to get serious. I really enjoyed the time we spent around him,” Ryan said. “Coach Willoughby is very knowledgeable about the game and conveys the same passion as coach Glasscock. Coach Willoughby already has us working hard and getting us used to his play style. I’m looking forward to this upcoming season with him as our head coach. We were surprised about coach Glasscock leaving, but we understood once he told us he was going back home to coach. As any team would be, we were sad about him leaving. We were excited when we found out that coach Willoughby was going to be our new coach. I wish coach Glasscock the best of luck.”

Carson got to play alongside some great seniors and learned some things from them. He has seen his overall game improve throughout the past couple of seasons, but still sees room for improvement.

“I felt like they pushed me to do my best. They showed me that size doesn’t matter. Our guards, Diego and Gunnar, were probably two of the toughest defenders we had because of their hustle. Our bigs, Christian and Levi, it was like, when they were in the game, no one else was getting rebounds. One of them would always come down with it. We were all like one big family that pushed each other to do our best. I learned not to dwell on any mistakes I made, always give 110%, you’re going to have good nights and bad nights, and at the end, it’s all about having fun,” Ryan said. “I felt like I became a more consistent shooter and on the defensive end, I became more aggressive. My confidence was better, and I started looking to shoot the ball more. I will continue to work on my shooting and ball-handling, but the main focus is on getting bigger and stronger.”

Carson talked about his goals and the team goals for next season, and he thinks next season will be another special one for the Broncos.

“My individual goals are to be the best teammate I can be and always improve. Our team goals are to have a season like last year and make it to Birmingham,” he said. “I feel like we’re going to be a team that plays at a fast pace. We have a bunch of talent coming back and we have got a bunch of guys that can make things happen. Between Kollin, Sawyer, Blake, and a few others, our desire to compete and play well, and coach Willoughby’s passion, we should be a fun and entertaining team to watch.”

Carson did learned a lot on the diamond last season as well and he feels lucky to play alongside some great teammates and coaches.

“We were a better team than our record indicated. With this being coach Destry Stone’s first year with us, it was kind of a transition with everyone getting used to things. This was the first year I’ve really played third at the varsity level. I learned a few things that made me better throughout the season. Most of all, I learned not to get down when things aren’t going our way and stay positive,” he said. “Most of us have played together since the Park and Recreation days and a lot of the seniors believed in positivity and they play team baseball. What I learned from the seniors is to keep working. Baseball takes a lot of work to be good at hitting and fielding. Fundamentals are important and the mental approach is important as well. Coach Mark Bell was all about the fundamentals and mentally being prepared for practices and games. Coach Stone stresses the importance of positivity and being fundamentally sound. I’ve been blessed to play for several great coaches and assistant coaches.”

Carson has gotten better over the past couple of seasons but will continue to put in the work in the offseason as he prepares for next season.

“I feel like I’ve developed a few more pitches than I had two years ago that helped me out on the mound. My reaction time on the field has gotten a lot better and I feel like I’ve improved on my situational hitting. The biggest thing that I have improved in is in my mental strength,” he said. “I feel like my hitting could improve and I’m working to get stronger, and gain velocity on my pitches. I’ll also work on my strength and agility.”

Carson talks about the goals for himself and for the team and he believes next season will be a lot better than last season.

“Individually, I would like to have a .300 batting average or above, and as a team, win area and advance to the state playoffs,” he said. “We have a lot of talent coming back and some back and some guys that didn’t play last year are coming out and should contribute. With this being coach Stone’s second year, I believe things will go more smoothly because everyone will be on the same page.”

Carson talked about his role models growing up in both sports and the best advice that he was ever given.

“Two of the basketball players from the Final Four team, coach Griffin Morris and Matt Cahoon, taught us how to play hard and win, as well as lose with class. On the baseball side of things, I like watching videos of Chipper Jones and the way he plays third. I want to try to be a better third baseman,” he said. “The best advice that someone ever gave me was to believe in myself and work hard at everything I do. Nothing worth having is given to you for free.”

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