Although Rory Ryan earned the individual honors one would expect of a HOF member, his defining trait was an insatiable desire to win. On Coach Aylward’s first state-championship team, he was named Class B Offensive Player of the Year, City Offensive All-Class Captain, and Superstate. When he graduated, only he and his Brother Bill (HOF Class of 2014) had posted multiple 1,000 yard rushing seasons. Turning to baseball, in 1994, he led the Pius X summer team to its first Midget Legion Title ever, compiling a 15-1 pitching record and leading the team in all major offensive categories. As that team continued to win division titles and make state-title games, he set the career mark for summer batting average, led the state in stolen bases the next spring, and covered centerfield with reckless abandon.
Neither Rory’s current career nor his earlier football ascent followed a likely path. He played football only one season (6th grade) in elementary school before deciding not to report for uniform pickup as a sophomore. He felt that basketball was probably his best sport, and he just didn’t enjoy freshman football. But after hearing this news, his brother Bill drove down from Omaha where he was playing college baseball and convinced Rory that he’d regret not giving it a shot. Sheepishly, having missed uniform pickup, Ryan walked into Coach Alyward’s office and asked if he had any equipment left. Coach had a set of gear bundled up waiting for him.
Ryan’s path to becoming a tenured law professor at Baylor Law was just as unlikely. While preparing for his senior football season at Morningside College, one of Rory’s college professors convinced him to take the LSAT. But the test was on a game day. “The test ended at noon, and the game started at noon. So I took the Law School Entrance Exam in full pads and uniform without studying. After, I threw away all my law school materials, and didn’t even check my score.” Years later, he graduated with the highest GPA in the history of Baylor Law, where he’d return to teach just a year after graduating.