Ryan Swanda shines beyond the field

Isadora Li, managing editor

Ryan Swanda is starting his third year on the Edina Boys’ Varsity Soccer team having led an eventful athletics career. Swanda has played for Keliix Intra Soccer and currently competes with Minnesota Thunder Academy. Outside of soccer, Swanda volunteers as a coach and says he has found a deep appreciation for spending time with others in his free time. 

His efforts in his academic and athletic endeavors have not gone unnoticed — Swanda was awarded the MSHSL ExCEL as a junior, which recognizes athletic and academic achievement. During the 2020-21 season, Swanda received the Tom Presthus Award for Sportsmanship and Dedication, which is awarded through coaches’ nominations. The Edina Boys’ Soccer team as a whole was named All-Conference 1st Team in the 2020-21 season, for which Swanda played as a junior. 

Swanda says his role as a captain is an honor, as captains are selected by the previous year’s team. He attributes the success of the team to his fellow captains, seniors Sammy Presthus and Jackson Holley, who he says bring a wealth of skill and complementary characteristics. Swanda extends his role beyond mere organization and skills coaching, and into routine team building. When facilitating practice, Swanda opts for direct encouragement, rather than the stereotypical yelling associated with the sport. 

“Attitude is something that’s huge to our program, and we don’t want guys that are just going to scream at each other… [because] then, it’s going to be a stressful year,” Swanda said. 

His captaincy aside, Swanda keeps busy with a range of other activities. His time on the team has led him to opportunities that allow him to pass on his love of sports to young kids. Swanda has volunteered at soccer camps through Edina Soccer Club since he was in seventh grade. From there, he moved onto Club Helix’s program, Sampaku, where he took interest in the differences in the teams’ internal organization. 

“It was amazing to see how different organizations run the [program],” Swanda said. “You could just see the smile on every single one of their faces. For something that’s brought me so much joy, I found a goal of mine [was] to make sure other kids felt a ton of joy for the sport that I love doing,” Swanda said. 

Swanda has plans to pursue a career in medicine. “With everything I’ve seen with COVID, I think being a nurse could be really cool. I think also being a [Physician’s Assistant] would be very interesting,” Swanda said. Regardless of his future profession, Swanda feels soccer will continue to play a constant and vital role in his life, whether it be through coaching or playing at any level. 

With plans to end the season on a high note as in previous years, Swanda says he’ll continue to rely on his teammates. “As we got through highs and lows, I know they’re the people I can always count on,” Swanda said.

This story was originally written for Stinglocker Magazine.