Welcome to our series on Student-Athlete Impact! Throughout the month of February, you will be hearing from some of our student-athletes as they tell their stories of victories in the classroom, in competition, and in life. Next up is wrestling's Garrett Ryan '18CC.

The first time I sat down at a potter’s wheel, I was awful at it. I was hooked, though—mesmerized by the push and pull against the clay—and I was determined to get better.

Six years later, I head to the ceramics studio whenever I have the chance…and it’s made me a better wrestler.

When I’m at the wheel, I am in a state of hyper focus. I’m calm but tensed at the same time, keeping my hands perfectly still and applying even pressure. All the clay wants is to get thrown off center by centrifugal force, and I have to focus my energy to keep the clay in the center, to manipulate it to fulfill my vision.

The same forces apply in the wrestling circle. My opponent wants to control the center, to push me outwards to the edge of the mat. With help from Dr. Brent Walker, Associate Athletics Director for Championship Performance, I’ve learned to tap into that state of flow and focus that I find in the studio, and bring it to the wrestling mat, to respond to unexpected situations in competition with the same flexibility and improvisation that I channel when a pottery piece isn’t turning out the way I’d planned.

The Columbia student-athlete experience allows for the development of the whole person: in competition and practice, of course, but also through academics and through integrating all facets of our lives into what we do in athletics. And the support from alumni and friends is incredible. We have a group of alumni who come to every dual meet, every tournament, and a lot of them stepped up in a big way to renovate our locker room my sophomore year.

Seeing their support made tangible in something I use every day, in a place where we as a team spend so much time and make so many memories, was really special, and I know that student-athletes from other sports feel the same. I hope all of the alumni, parents, and friends who support Columbia Athletics know how much their generosity means to us. Please consider supporting The Fund for Excellence with a gift today!

Check out last week's feature on Katie Angen '18BC.