Ryan Duncan is a young man with a passion for baseball.
Friday was a big day in the Washington High School senior’s life as he committed to attend Ohio Christian University in Circleville where he will continue his education and continue toiling behind the plate as the Trailblazers’ catcher.
The process began with communications via e-mail with Duncan visiting the campus last month.
After a work-out for the coach, Grant Reynolds, Duncan was told OCU wanted him on the team.
“It’s always been my dream to play college baseball,” Duncan said.
The plan is to leave college four years hence with a business degree and a sports management degree, Duncan explained.
Duncan played football and wrestled for the Blue Lions as a freshman, but, since then, he has focused his athletic energies toward baseball.
“After my freshman year, I set my mind that baseball is my sport,” Duncan said. “That’s what I want to play.”
What about the beginnings of his baseball career?
“I’ve caught and been a middle infielder all my life,” Duncan said. “My dad never wanted me to catch. He wanted me to be a middle infielder. When I was eight years old, I saw a catcher’s mitt and I said, ‘Dad, I like that.’ He said, ‘No, I don’t want you to catch; I want you to be a middle infielder.’”
Then, at practice in the Minors Division of the Washington Little League, the coach asked, “‘Who all wants to catch,’” Duncan said. “I was one of the first ones to raise my hand. Ever since then, I’ve been behind the plate.
“I played for the Eagles,” Duncan related. “We won the championship that year. The year after that we also won the championship. I moved on to the Mopars after that. Little League was fun. I played two years of Minors and two years of Majors. The year after that I played for a travel team out of Grove City. That helped me progress a lot.
“I have to give a lot of thanks to my batting coach and catching coach, Larry Thomas and Jake Duffy,” Duncan said.
Duncan began with the junior-varsity team as a freshman. As a sophomore, he played some with the varsity team in the latter part of the season.
Last year, Duncan was a full-time member of the varsity team.
Duncan caught all the games last year due to a season-ending injury suffered early on by senior David Harvey.
“It was tough when David went down, because he was one of our big leaders,” Duncan said.
Troy Montgomery was the varsity coach when Duncan was a freshman.
For the last two years, it was Matt Platt.
This year, Duncan will play under the direction of new head coach, Tyler Rhodus.
“He’s big on everybody sticking together as a family,” Duncan said. “I think that will help us out a lot.”
Duncan spoke about Blue Lion baseball goals for 2014.
“We’re shooting to win the SCOL this year,” Duncan said. “Another of our goals is to make it back to the District finals and win a District title. We made it to the District title game last year and got beat by Warren.
“We’re missing a lot of key players from last year, but, I think we can make it back there,” Duncan said. “I think we’re going to have another good run this year.”
What about life at Washington High School?
“Washington Court House has been a great school to attend,” Duncan said. “Everybody gets along. Our senior class has bonded real well. It’s just a good atmosphere around here.
“I’d say business math is my favorite class,” Duncan said. “Math has always come easy to me. That class will help me next year, taking business classes with math involved.”
Duncan’s dad, Jamie, was on hand Friday to witness his son committing to OUC.
Duncan’s mom, Tina, lives in California.
“My mom played a big role in getting me to be an athlete,” Duncan said. “She’d always be outside with me. She’s the kind of person I’d like to be; she’s strong-willed. She doesn’t give up on anything she sets her mind to. I love her. She’s a great woman.”
Like every person alive today, Duncan has had help along the way.
“I’d like to thank Larry Thomas and Jake Duffy,” Duncan said. “They’ve made me the player I am today. Jake has put me in every catching situation known to man. He’s helped me for such a long time. And, Mr. Larry Thomas has been awesome for me with hitting. When I was nine years old, I couldn’t hit a ball to save my life. When I was 10, he changed my swing and it’s been all hands on deck ever since.
“I want to thank my father for always doing everything for baseball for me,” Duncan said. “It’s awesome having him for a father. He’s given me everything I could possibly ask for to help my career. I have a great set of parents.”
“We’re always looking for high-character guys to come in and help us with the program,” Coach Reynolds said. “Catcher was a big need for us for next season. We’ve been recruiting catchers strongly. Ryan came and worked out for us and did a great job behind the plate. He has a very good-looking swing. Between his character and what we saw (at the workout), we were impressed. We were happy when he decided to come play with us.”
An interesting side note: Duncan was born in Katy, Texas. His mom was a teacher and one of her pupils was Andy Dalton, quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals.