Playing basketball at Eastern Washington University wasn’t intentionally picked as the Ryan family business – it just happened that way.
The lineage began with Neil Ryan, Neil Ann Massie when she played for EWU from 1979-82, and continued when her daughter Brianne Ryan joined the Eagles in 2008.
Brianne’s younger sister, Kayleigh, joined the team this season and redshirted.
“EWU was the first offer I had, it just worked out like that,” said Brianne, an introvert off the court and the opposite with a basketball in her hands.
“Our mom thinks it’s really cool and we get kind of embarrassed,” Kayleigh said.
“She loves it,” Brianne added about her mother. “She never even brought up college basketball and now she challenges me to beat her records and brings that up.”
That won’t happen in certain categories, as the elder Ryan ranks high on most rebounding lists – including 1,008 career rebounds, which ranks third in EWU history.
Brianne, now a senior, did manage to pass her mother this season on the all-time scoring list with her 32 points against Weber State on Jan. 5. Ryan has moved far beyond Neil Ann’s mark (1,190) and has scored 1,416 career points, which is third in school history.
After this Saturday’s final Big Sky game of the season, at Idaho State, there will only be one Ryan left to leave her mark at EWU.
“It’s a cool thing to think about,” the youngest Ryan said. “I thought about my sister more when I decided to come here. We get along pretty well and I thought it’d be awesome to play on the same team.”
“I always have someone to hang out with, and it’s different with sisters – we could want to knock each other out and five minutes later go back to being best friends,” Brianne said. “We have a lot of family over here, too, so it’s a good fit.”
If it was a good fit for Brianne, it’s been an even better one for the Eagles.
In 28 games this season, Brianne has led EWU in scoring in 20 of them.
The power forward’s 19.4 points not only rank highest on her team, but she’s gone from being inside the top 100 as a junior to 19th in the nation among all NCAA Division I women. She was the Big Sky Conference’s co-defensive player of the year as a sophomore and last season made the all-Big Sky first team.
“It is exciting when you see other names you hear on ESPN all the time and you’re averaging those kinds of numbers,” she said. “But it’s frustrating if the team doesn’t do well. I’d rather the team succeed.”
Ultimately, she’d rather relax – something she looks forward to at the conclusion of the season. She’ll remain in the area to finish her accounting degree.
“I am considering trying to play overseas, but I am not sure,” she said. “It’s gone by fast and been good for me but I’m excited to be done. I’m not sure what the future holds.”
Perhaps her mother can provide some inspiration.