My name is James Ryan and it’s my pleasure to announce that I am the new Media Coordinator for the Ontario Football Conference (OFC), which is directly affiliated with the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) – the only national amateur football program in all of Canada for players ages 23 and under.
I am also the Media Coordinator for the Niagara Storm youth football organization, plus I volunteer my time as the Defensive Coordinator (Coach) for the Niagara Storm Junior Varsity team.
For starters, let me just say that fitness is something that has always been a major part of my life. I started working in the Fitness Industry when I was only 14-years old, and I’m a proud lifetime member of the Shintani Wado Kai Karate Federation since 1983. I am honoured to be able to say that I have trained as a student under Sensei Peter Ruch in Fort Erie, and now Sensei Neil Prime and Sensei Brad Cosby in St. Catharines.
By the age of 18, I ended up breaking my leg in seven different spots (tibia in five, fibula in two), and to make matters even worse, it was a compound fracture – meaning that the bone was sticking straight out and it had a huge clump of mud and grass on the end of it. This happened during a kick return while I was playing tackle football with a large group of friends and local athletes.
From there, instead of going to college or university (I wouldn’t have been able to play sports anyway), I took advantage of the opportunity to continue working in the Fitness Industry on a full-time basis, which made a lot of sense at the time, because I already knew that I wanted to own my own gym some day. I was eager to gain actual life knowledge related to precisely what I wanted to do. Without sports, college just didn’t seem to make any sense to me. It’s not like I had ever dreamt of becoming a plumber or an accountant or something. Plus my dad always seemed to discourage against any sort of trade – probably because he was a auto and train mechanic, turned teacher. In fact, it was my parents who taught both me and my brother to pursue whatever careers we thought were going to make us the happiest. For my brother, it was music, and now it’s Horror FX. For me, it was fitness, and now it’s writing and coaching.
By the time I was 20, I was informed by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s lawyer (don’t ask me to remember his name) that I was officially the youngest Club Manager in World Gym franchise history. This achievement made me feel like I could accomplish anything once I set my mind to do it.
After spending over 12 non-consecutive years working in the Fitness Industry at predominantly a senior management level – learning what to do and what not to do, and ultimately training hundreds of staff members in the areas of sales, marketing, customer service, and of course, exercise safety, I met a man while bartending one night who offered me a temporary job at Niagara College Canada.
That temporary job eventually turned into two weeks, which then turned into two months, which subsequently turned into two years, which finally turned into six years as a Project Officer, where I was responsible for creating and teaching a brand new Customer Relations course, which is still currently being taught today as a part of the existing apprenticeship curriculum.
I was also assigned the positions of Auto Shop Technician and Pre-Apprenticeship Program Coordinator, which was a program specifically geared towards under-educated adults and “at risk” students – those who lacked the necessary life skills in order to secure and maintain employment. Many of these students suffered from previous drug or alcohol addictions, and it was my job to mentor these students and kick them in the rear-end whenever they needed it the most. I was in charge of motivating them to accomplish their goals, and the program went on to have the most successful finish results in the program’s short history – and I was able to achieve all of this with nothing more than a high school diploma.
In 2006, I volunteered my time and was officially recognized as a Certified Physical Activity Adviser for the Regional Municipality of Niagara. In 2008, I finally graduated from Niagara College Canada with a two-year diploma in General Arts and Science (focus on Criminal Psychology), which was achieved strictly on a part-time basis, while I continued to work full-time, raise a young family, and coach my incredibly athletic son in youth sports. I even set two school records in the process. When it was all said and done, I was extremely thankful that I had never gone to college right out of high school. I never would have taken it as seriously or appreciated it near as much.
For those of you wondering, my teaching and coaching background consists of the following: Three years as a classroom helper at Lakeview Public School in Grimsby (2002 – 2005), three years as a Certified Physical Activity Advisor with the Regional Municipality of Niagara (2006 – 2008), two years as a Coach/Head Coach in the Niagara Regional Minor Football Association (2008 – 2009), three years as a Head Coach in the Niagara Falls youth indoor touch football league (2007 – 2010), one year as an assistant trainer for the Grimsby Grizzlies youth travel basketball team (2010 – 2011), five years as a Customer Relations Instructor at Niagara College Canada (2006 – 2011), one year as a Coach/Communications Assistant with the Niagara Spears youth football organization (2010 – 2011), and as already mentioned, I am currently entering into my third year as a Coach/Defensive Coordinator for the Niagara Storm youth football organization (2010, 2012 – 2013).
My various Instructor-related certifications and workshops consist of the following: Part-Time Teacher Development Certificate from Niagara College Canada, football coaching clinic with McMaster University (x2), football coaching clinic with Guelph University, First Aid/CPR certifications through St. John’s Ambulance (x4), outstanding leadership honours from the Student Summer Success Camp (NTAB), Coaching: Living your best life (workshop), Communicating with and engaging your students (workshop), Coaching today’s students to success (workshop), Saving the “at risk” students (workshop), How to handle emotionally charged situations (workshop), Getting the most out of multiple choice questions (workshop), Presentation skills (workshop), and personality dimensions (workshop). I am also a Certified Reebok Spinning Instructor and a F.L.I.P.T. Master Fitness Trainer.
Currently, I am the only youth football coach in the entire Niagara Region who has ever sat on the executive committees for both the Niagara Spears (OVFL) and now the Niagara Storm (OFC/HWMFA).
I am also currently working as a professional bartender in beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake (I now have over 20 years of experience) and I am the author of Desolate Warrior, which is an inspirational story based on the true life and events of former WEC Brazilian MMA fighter, Will Ribeiro. I have been sportswriting and running a successful blog since 2009, and I am currently working as the Editor on my second book, entitled 50 States of Consciousness, which tells the story of an incredible adventure inspired by an amazing woman – Coach DJ Jones from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
I am an outdoor enthusiast (I absolutely love wilderness camping in Algonquin Provincial Park) and I’m a lifetime ambassador for healthy living and exercise in the Niagara Region, particularly in the often neglected areas of youth and beginner fitness. I truly believe that enthusiasm is contagious, and even though I don’t go out of my way to start trouble (usually) – I’ve made it a personal habit to never back down or shy away from controversy, regardless of what my critics might say about me.
“It is not the critic who counts – not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
Thank you for reading, and remember that the only limitations in this life are the ones that you put on yourself.
James Ryan, sitting inside of Cruises Pub in Ennis, Ireland
Photo taken on May 7, 2012