Thursday, March 7, 2013

Senior chats: Richmond's Ryann Dannelly

LadySwish continues its Senior Chats with Richmond's Ryann Dannelly, a 6-4 forward from Clarksville, Md., who has made 22 starts this season, averaging 6.1 ppg and 4.6 rpg while shooting .455 from the field. We love her name, which we asked about, and found it incredibly delightful to speak with an author we expect will rival J.K. Rowling.

Any secret to your first name?

My parents named me Kathryn, because it's my grandma's name. But they thought there were too many Kathryns out in the world; they also thought there were too many Kate and Katies. So they wanted an original name for a girl. One of their friends mentioned Ryan as a girl's name. They really liked that, but they wanted it to be spelled like a girl's name so they added an extra n.

You're an author of a 400-page book. Share the details.

I had a dream of this conversation between two people when I was a sophomore in high school. I was really intrigued by what they were talking about. At the time, I knew I wanted to write but didn't think I had the ability. For a couple of years, I sat on this conversation that I dreamed between two people.

From my sophomore year of high school until my freshman year of college, I would create stories about this conversation through notes and different notepads, but I was too terrified to actually put it all together for a story in my own. I gained confidence through the different creative writing classes I took at Richmond.

My sophomore summer was the first time I sat down and started to write. It became a therapeutic endeavor. I loved every minute of it. Sometimes I'd say, 'This isn't good. I don't like it. I'll start over.' But it weirdly became this passion of mine. Once I started to write it, I couldn't stop.

Now I'm making sure the book is what I want it to be. I finished my last round of edits, and I'm typing those up. I'm going to give it to a professor of mine, and he said he would read it over before I try to find an agent.

It's called The Enhanced. It's fiction. I read a ton, and I have mixed different genres that I enjoy. It has an adventure to it, but there's also this futuristic element, and there's this darkness to it. These characters are constantly in these situations where they need to learn to persevere. A lot of the inspiration came through my experiences in college; a lot of it has come with my ongoing battles on the basketball court, although the story is not in any way about basketball.

What do you like to read?

It depends on my mood. Every Christmas the last four years I've had this tradition of only asking for books. I'll look for five books on the Internet that I want. Two years ago, I read a lot of British apocalypse. This past year it's been all over the place. Since Christmas I've read 20-some books. I enjoy a wide variety of genres.

A book you're read over and over?

My favorite series and what got me into reading is Harry Potter books. I actually hated to read as a kid. I had to be physically forced to sit down and read a book. I hated it, then I started reading Harry Potter in middle school. Recently, though, the favorite book I've read in the past two years is The Book Thief. It's not in all in the genre I'm writing. I was intrigued by the way the story is written. It's told by the perspective of death and death follows this girl in Germany during the Holocaust.

Talk about your basketball career, which continues Friday with Richmond meeting GWU in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

I came in as a freshman as the only true freshman on scholarship. I was the only freshman on a team that had a set routine. I had to jump in the back of the drills and figure 'em out. My freshman and sophomore years, it was very much trying to learn the system. I came in a very small, weak post player. I had never lifted in high school. For the first two years, I didn't play much in the games. But there was a voice inside of me that knew it wasn't my time.

Junior year came around, and I became the first post player off the bench. I was still the relief player. For three years, freshman to junior year, I played the role player. I went in when someone had too many fouls. It was this constant battle of keeping my head held high even when times were tough.

This year came around, and there was a certain confidence in my play. I was still the first post player off the bench, but I had accepted the role. Then Genevieve (Okoro) tore her ACL. Suddenly we needed another post player and Coach (Michael Shafer) threw me into the starting lineup. In 24 hours my role on the team drastically changed. ... This past year has been a whirlwind for me. But I think over the past month, I've gotten better and more comfortable playing more minutes.

What memory stands out from Spiders basketball?

Last year toward the end of the season, the post players, we hadn't been performing well in practice. It was after Xavier. We started to have these morning (6 a.m.) post practices, just the players and the coaches. The first two were physically exhausting and draining. We were beating up on each other.

As post players before we went out for the third time, I pulled us together and said, 'Guys. We can go out there and do this if we stay together. We can have fun with it.' (Coach) had been challenging us. We went out there for the third time and everything was completely different. We were having fun and we were clapping. Suddenly everything we did was 10,000 times easier. At the end of post practice, he applauded us.

That mentality has helped me this season. I realize I'm playing a sport I love and enjoy; I should be having fun doing it.

What was Senior Night like?

I'm not a big crier, but it was pretty surreal. It hadn't sunk in. When my parents came to walk me out, that was the biggest moment. They  have helped me all these years to get to this point -- taking me to practices, taking me to tournaments all these years. Having them there walking me out was probably the most emotional thing.

What's next?

I have a few options. Eventually my plan is to get into teaching. I'm looking into working for different publishing companies -- working for a publishing company or a magazine or any sort of journalism publication. I'm also in the process of going through the Teach for America application. I have that interview next week.

If I get into teaching, I could coach the basketball team!

One more. Your thoughts on Rachael and Sam, two seniors we'll also miss?

They're a blast. Off the court, they're such fun people. They bring such life to the team. They know how to make you laugh and listen to your problems. Both of them together have made the other one better.

They really are great people on and off the court. They'll push you and tell you when you're not doing something right. They'll encourage you and tell you, 'You can hit that shot.' Because I've played with them the most, they're my grounding factor on the court.

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