So I’ve been working on trying to connect with Ryan Ashburn (Class of 2010) for a while. It seems that we just couldn’t find the right times to get together. Maybe it’s because she lives in Alabama now and neither of us are very good at writing. Then I got an email from Ryan asking if I would be in my office the next week and low and behold, it happened.
Ryan transferred to IRCS half way through her freshman year. She related that the reason for the move was that they were looking for a family Christ-centered environment and they felt that IRCS provided that for them.
After graduation, a golf scholarship led Ryan to attend Stetson University in Deland. I asked her if she felt her high school experience had prepared her for college. She said, “Yes, I was well prepared academically. I felt the teachers at IRCS always pushed us to do our best but you knew they cared about you and what would happen to me after I was done with school here.”
Mission trips made a big impact on Ryan’s high school experience. Her two stand out trips were to Jamaica and Malta. The cultures varied immensely and allowed her to grow in different ways. In Jamaica, the team built a house for a family that lived in a very poor area, thus greatly improving the quality of life for this family. In Malta, she was part of performing Christian dramas to help point people to Christ. They were able to stage their dramas for a number of different audiences. She related that these experiences put her into uncomfortable situations, forcing her to grow in ways she would not have done normally if she had not gone on the trips.
Her favorite memory was the senior trip to the camp in Tennessee. She said, “Our class got along so well and it was so much fun.” When asked if there was a certain staff member that had significant impact in her life she shared several. “Mr. Kinsey, because he was a great history teacher and I had him for leadership class as well. Mrs. Busjahn impacted me as the leader of the Malta trip. Coach Farver and Mr. Banse because they coached me (yes, besides golf she played basketball and was a very good bowler). I still use things that I learned from them in my coaching.”
Speaking of coaching, did I mention her current occupation? Ryan is the head women’s golf coach at the University of Alabama Birmingham. Head coach at a D-1 university, that’s a pretty big deal!! When Ryan graduated from Stetson with her degree in Sports Business and Marketing, she was picked up as an assistant coach at Campbell University in North Carolina from 2014-15. In 2015, she was hired by Baylor University as an assistant coach until the University of Alabama Birmingham came knocking in 2018 and asked her to assume the head coaching duties. I asked Ryan what some of her biggest challenges were coaching golf at the university level. She didn’t even hesitate as she said, “Social media.” Her athletes only see the very good things (bragging) on social media but never the struggles. So when the hard times come they feel like they are failures because they aren’t one of the social media success stories. She said the other challenge is, “Teaching them to be self-sufficient adults.” I’m confident that Ryan is very good at this because she has become a wonderful young women, mentor, and role model. We are very proud to claim her as a graduate of IRCS!