Dan Ryan Hired as Stevens High Boys Hoops Coach

  • “I just help out where I can,” said Dan Ryan, center, assistant coach of the Stevens High School varsity boys basketball team. “I hope these people here know that I need this more than they need me.” Valley News — Theophil Syslo

  • Dan Ryan, center, assistant coach for the boys varsity basketball team at Stevens High School, watches his players perform in a game against the Gilford High School Golden Eagles in Claremont on Wednesday. Valley News — Theophil Syslo

Valley News Correspondent
Monday, August 27, 2018

Claremont — Dan Ryan’s glass is always half full, but what is ahead of him may make him gulp a bit.

Ryan, who will soon turn 71, has been handed the reins to a Stevens High boys basketball team that not only has just two returning players but is moving up a division in the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association, from the comfort of Division III to the highly competitive Division II.

So what does the veteran of past basketball wars think of his present position?

“I can’t wait,” he said. “I know we can be successful.”

To say that he is the eternal optimist would be an understatement considering the schedule now contains the likes of Souhegan, Lebanon, Laconia, Oyster River, Merrimack and Hanover, teams that have not been on the slate since the bygone days when more than 700 kids roamed the halls of the Claremont school and played in what was then known as Class I.

“I don’t feel any pressure,” Ryan said. “If we work hard and tend to business, we can make it work.”

Ryan, a Boston native who said he was a “pretty good” basketball player at Cardinal Spellman High School in Brockton, Mass., will replace Matthew Baird-Torney.

“While I am saddened to see Matt leave after running the program for five years, including one trip to the finals,” said Stevens athletic director Doug Beaupre, “I’m sure that Dan will continue to move the boys basketball program progressively forward. Dan has a successful background and a great understanding of the game.”

Ryan’s success came in a long stint at InterLakes High School in Meredith, N.H., where he was the junior varsity coach for 15 years and varsity coach for eight more, making it to the championship game three times. He followed that up with two years as an assistant to Paul Hogan at Plymouth State University. Ryan became familiar with the Lakes Region when he went to the now defunct Belknap College in Meredith, where he later spent three years there as an assistant basketball coach and one year as the head man.

He showed up in Claremont in 2012 and took a job as an unpaid assistant on the basketball team. His move to Claremont was based upon a medical issue that made it easier for him if he lived near Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

While Ryan has not been a coach for several years, he has become the school’s favorite fan as he has become a fixture at Stevens athletic events.

When the job opened up, Ryan applied and, in anticipation of perhaps getting the position, has been following the Stevens team this summer in Lebanon and has coached the team during three recent games.

“I’m stinking up the joint,” he said in his self-evaluation.

Paul Silva will be Ryan’s varsity assistant, and Scott Spaulding returns to run the junior varsity.

Ryan does plan to change things up a bit, as he will go to a man-to-man defense, which is away from Baird-Torney’s zone play. On offense, the Cards will change from a motion system to a screen offense.

Ryan admitted there is more to the game than just the physical aspect, but he does agree that hard work is a key factor.

“For me, it’s mostly mental and preparation,” he said.

With that in mind, Ryan has been getting ready for the season even though it’s months away by studying videos for two hours a day. He is especially enamored with some things he has watched that have made their way down from Canada.

“They are doing a lot of good stuff up there,” he said.

In the meantime, he is getting a bit antsy about the upcoming season.

“I’m thrilled to get the job and anxious to get the season started,” he said.

And that’s without any reservations about the tough task ahead.

“Again, I’m not scared,” he said. “Not only will be competitive, but I know we will be successful. There we are a lot of good basketball players in Claremont, and the future is bright.”