Monday, March 14, 2011

Ryan speaks -- from the heart

Debbie Ryan spoke for the first time since the university announced her resignation on Saturday morning. You could hear the pain in her words -- gut wrenching to be honest. Here are a few of them from the woman who has coached the University of Virginia for 34 years, amassing 736 victories and surviving pancreatic cancer along the way. After her 30-minute press conference, the media stood and clapped.

I haven't really been in  a room with this many media for  a long time. Some of the people in this room are my best friends.

This has been a great ride for me. It has been really fun. It has been the best years of my life. I love this university. I love people here in this department. This has been really difficult for me. This university saved my life 10 years ago, so I have nothing but great things to say about being such a small part of a big thing.

I don't know if anybody is as lucky as I've been to have such a great place and such great people to work with during their career.

On her future: I'm not really very good at talking about myself as most of you know. ... I need to take a step back and take a look at everything before I jump into anything.

I love coming to work every day, but I guess there comes a time when everything has to end. When Val Ackerman talked to me from France over the weekend, she said the only thing that's a certainty in life is change.

Memories: When you think about the past you don't think about wins and losses. I think about people and the relationships I've had a chance to be a part of. ... Time is really all we have. What you do with that time is the most important thing. I have worked really hard especially in the last 10 years to be the best Debbie Ryan I could be. ... I've done everything I could to be the best coach, the best friend, the best mentor, the best daughter, the best sister that I could be. 

On the Cavaliers playing in the WNIT (field to be announced Monday night): I told them on Saturday at 2 o'clock, which was difficult. They made their own decision about wanting to play. We started practice again on Sunday and they've been exceptional.

On the decision to play: I would have gone either way with them. I wanted to do what was best with them. I'm happy to be here and to continue to coach here as long as they want me here in terms of my players. 

On Virginia find a successor: I don't think I"ll be a part of finding someone, but I can guarantee you I'll be getting a lot of phone calls.

I do know that probably just about everybody that I say "we" are going to consider for this position is going to be connected to me one way or another. ... I'm not saying it's going to come from Virginia roots. I would hope it would, but I would be the last person making this decision.

On the glory years: Those years do not stand out any more to me than this year does. At the same time, some of my best friends are from those classes. .... When you think about championships and things like that, that's not what sticks in your mind. It's not about what you achieve as much as what you've been able to do with the people you achieved it with.

On the response to the news: I was taken aback at some of the comments posted on our web site. I feel very honored and very humbled. In some respects I think college athletics is moving away from where it needs to be in terms of the student-athlete in terms of the mentoring. .... Sometimes I think the pressures and the criticism are not good for women. It has been a hard journey for a lot of them.

I've enjoyed every single minute of it.

So have we, Coach.

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