When I was three, playing outside on the ranch, my mom would throw a little Nerf football at my head until I finally learned to catch it. I absolutely loved it. Growing up in Texas, I very quickly gained a love for football, as most boys do there. You always hear how football is a religion in Texas… Well it’s true. Between Friday night football games and yelling “Hook ‘em Horns” or “Gig ‘em Aggies,” depending on where your allegiance lies, I was constantly surrounded by football 24/7 and couldn’t get enough of it.
I guess the indoctrinating nature of the “football culture” in Texas has always stuck with me. I moved to Canada when I was twelve and still had the same love for football that I had always had. While I tried my hand at a few different sports, like hockey and baseball, football was still the sport for me. Throughout my high school career, I saw some success on the field and was getting pretty heavily recruited by Canadian universities for football. While they were all very good schools, my heart wasn’t in them. I still had the same dream I had as a kid in Texas; I wanted to go play Division I football. I had talked to a couple of colleges in the U.S. about playing there, but I never had any serious offers besides walk-ons, and walking on for a team was just not an option financially.
My dream of going back to the U.S. to play football and go to college looked like it was fading. I was looking for other options when a friend asked me if I had thought about going to prep school for a year. I had never even heard of a prep school before, but I figured I would look into it. After doing a little research, I was somewhat hesitant. Why would I want to go back to high school for a year? I had always done well in school, and to me the only reason people ever did an extra year of school or repeated a year was because they weren’t keeping their grades up. I, however, realized there was a lot more to it, and I saw the available educational opportunity.
I decided to pursue a PG year and was acceted into the two prep schools I applied to, one of them being Andover. I was aware Andover had been struggling for the last couple years on the field, and the other school I had applied to boasted a perennially strong football program. While having a good football season was certainly on the top of my list for what I was looking for, I also realized that football isn’t all there is in life – as much as I sometimes wish it was. Andover offered a lot more academically than the other school, and ultimately, I was okay with joining a struggling team.
Apparently, I made the right decision. We were certainly anything but struggling this year. Going undefeated and winning the New England Championship wasn’t something I was expecting when I got here, nor was being awarded the Player of the Year, but I guess sometimes things work out better than you initially picture. I had quite a bit of interest from Ivy League schools at the end of the season as well and ended up committing to Dartmouth.
If you had told me a year ago that I would be in prep school and going to an Ivy League school in a year, I probably would’ve laughed. Being the kid that has grown up in rural Texas and Canada, I would’ve never imagined that I would be somewhere on the East coast still playing football and getting what I would call a pretty darn good education.
_Ryder Stone is a post-graduate from Calgary, Canada. He was the running back for Varsity Football, earned the Ray Tippett Award and ran for Varsity Track._