Sarah Ryan was hired recently as sponsorship sales consultant for the WNBA's Atlanta Dream. The former Boston College basketball player also is the wife of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. (Special Photo)
Sarah Ryan, the wife of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, was announced last week as the Atlanta Dream’s sponsorship sales consultant. She worked previously in administrative roles for companies in Atlanta and Boston and has been volunteering frequently of late with the Boys and Girls Club’s after-school program.
Ryan, who turned 28 this week, is a native of Falmouth, Maine, where she was a three-sport star. She was a three-year starter at point guard for Boston College’s basketball team, finishing her career at No. 2 on the Eagles’ career assists list.
In this edition of “Getting to Know…”, Ryan talks with sports editor Will Hammock about her Dream job, her relationship with Matt, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Chrissy Teigen and being named Sarah Marshall.
WH: Congratulations on the new job. How excited are you to join the Dream?
SR: I’m really excited about this new job. To use the term Dream, it is a dream job for me. Having played basketball my whole life, I’m not playing, but to still be involved in the game I love is a great opportunity. I’m fortunate and lucky to be surrounded by great people and great women leading charge with owners Mary (Brock) and Kelly (Loeffler) and Ashley (Preisinger), the CEO.
WH: You’ve been to Dream games. How would you describe the atmosphere for fans who haven’t?
SR: Matt and I became season ticket holders this season so we’ve been to quite a few home games. It’s awesome. The atmosphere is fun. There is great talent on the Dream team. They’re great. We have the best record in the Eastern Conference so there are a lot of high quality players. The games are a great time. More people need to give the WNBA and the Dream a chance. Once you go to one game, you’ll be coming back a lot more.
WH: Do you think the Dream gets enough credit locally for being one of Atlanta’s most successful teams?
SR: I think it’s a work in progress. I still think we’re a hidden gem in the city as far as professional sports teams go. If people give them a chance, that fan base and recognition will come. Winning never hurts and this Atlanta Dream team is doing that. Hopefully with more wins and more exposure, more people will get out to Philips Arena for games.
WH: Have you had a chance to see (Minnesota Lynx star) Maya Moore play? We’ve been writing about her since she was an eighth-grader here in Gwinnett.
SR: I went to Boston College and played, but I just missed getting to play against her. That would have been very cool. I’ve seen her play throughout her college career and in the WNBA. I really can’t say enough about her. She’s definitely one of the of most talented players in the league. She can do it all offensively and defensively. She’s a great person off the floor, too, from what I hear.
WH: You were a pretty good player at Boston College. Do you ever find yourself wishing you were out there playing? Do you miss it?
SR: I do miss it. A couple of weeks ago Ashley and I went to one of the Dream practices and it takes you back to college quickly, seeing practice and the girls. But I realize too it’s a different level and you see why these girls are doing this. They’re really talented.
WH: How would you fare guarding (Dream star) Angel (McCoughtry)?
SR: Oh man. Angel’s a tough matchup for anyone. My goodness. Watching the game with Matt, some of the things she does on the floor, she opens his eyes. She’s strong, athletic. She has all the moves offensively, not to mention defensively. I’d be up for the challenge, but she would definitely have her way with me.
WH: Who were the best players you faced in college?
SR: Diana Taurasi a handful of times. That was a thrill. Another one who always seemed to play well against us was Cappie Pondexter from Rutgers. She was really good. … There are a lot. The list goes on and on.
WH: What type of player were you?
SR: I played point guard at Boston College and I was kind of your prototypical point guard. I got everyone where they needed to be, set people up, a playmaker, assists. I tried to involve my teammates.
WH: You played more than basketball growing up, right? I heard you were a legend in Maine (she was two-time state player of the year in basketball and all-state in soccer and track).
SR: Far from a legend (laughs). I played basketball, soccer and ran track. I didn’t run track my last two years. I ran long distance in track, the mile and two mile.
WH: What was it like growing up in Falmouth? Did you go to Cape Cod League baseball games in the summer?
SR: You know what, I never went to the Cape Cod League games. Falmouth was a great place to be raised, though. The quote, unquote city is Portland, Maine, and Falmouth had a small town feel where everyone knew each other. You grew up knowing all the same faces through high school. I made a lot of great friendships there, a lot of whom I still keep in touch with these days. I was fortunate in to grow up in an environment like that.
WH: Atlanta’s obviously pretty different from where you grew up. What do you and Matt like about being down here?
SR: The list can go on. I don’t know how much time you have. I’m quick to say that as soon as we moved down here my thoughts of moving back to Maine diminished. I love the weather. I love the seasons. Immediately, Matt and I noticed the stereotype of Southern hospitality is so true. People are quick to say hello. People are very friendly. It’s very comforting going into a new place to be surrounded by such nice people.
WH: Tell me about meeting Matt for the first time. Was it love at first sight for him?
SR: For him, he was definitely blown away (laughs). We met freshman year at Boston College. All the athletes there and all the teams worked out in the same building. So as cliché as it sounds, we first met in the weight room. It started out as a friendship. We’d see each other in the hallways and we had the same group of friends and one thing led to another. I look back and we dated forever and now we’ve been married for two years. I was the lucky one to run into him that day.
WH: What did you do for a first date?
SR: Wow. Let’s see. The first couple of times we went out with others around campus. That’s the beauty of college, you get to know someone without the official first date thing. You know what, I know what (the first official date) was. He was the best sport about it. Me and three of my teammates, so four girls were going to a movie and I invited Matt along to see “Man on Fire.” I felt bad because it was Matt and all these girls. But he was a good sport about it. Right then I knew I had a good one.
WH: You’ll remember this one better. How did he propose?
SR: He tricked me bad. We were on vacation, right around my birthday, and we had been dating for awhile, so you kind of get the feeling it could be coming. This trip, it’s my birthday, it could be this weekend. It was the day of my birthday and every moment was like, “Is this going to be it? Is this going to be it?” And then it doesn’t happen. Then that night, he said, “So do you want your present?” I totally think this is the ring. This is happening. He gives me a little black box and it totally looks like a ring box and it’s earrings. He had that trick all planned out. It was totally off my radar screen then because the season’s about to start, so I thought it would probably be another year (before he proposed). Then we’re leaving, with all our bags packed and ready to go, and he said I have one more gift for you. He had the ring and said all the right things. But he tricked me at first.
WH: Do you call him Matty Ice around the house for fun?
SR: I never call him Matty Ice (laughs). I don’t think I ever have. That nickname has stuck for a long time and people love it. But he’s just Matt to me.
WH: What are you like during his games? Super excited? Super nervous?
SR: Super nervous would describe me to a T. My family gets it, but if there are friends in town or people that don’t know me, I feel like I have to apologize and explain myself. I’m sorry but I can’t talk for the next four hours. I’m going be nervous. I’m going to be nervous on every pass and every play. But it’s worth it when you win.
WH: You’re pretty busy on Twitter. What do enjoy about it?
SR: I think Twitter is really fun. It’s certainly exploded. I think it’s become such a great way to get news, too. A lot of big events that go on, I go to Twitter first. It’s who I turn to first. If you follow the right people, you get what you want. I follow news sources, comedians, actors, athletes, models. You can get in touch with a lot of different people and see a lot of different opinions.
WH: What celebrities’ Tweets do you enjoy following the most?
SR: My favorite on Twitter is Chrissy Teigen, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, John Legend’s girlfriend. She’s hilarious. She’s really smart. I enjoy following her. Of course the Atlanta Falcons for all the updates. I follow a lot of good people, but I’d say Chrissy Teigen is my favorite.
WH: What was it like being Sarah Marshall (her maiden name) when the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” came out?
SR: It was really funny. I was in New York with my sisters on a weekend trip when they did all the promotional stuff for the movie. I don’t know if you remember the signs and stuff. They all said things like “You suck Sarah Marshall” or “My mom hates you Sarah Marshall.” Every chance I got, I took a picture under a sign that said “You suck Sarah Marshall.” Even to this day when people find out my name was Sarah Marshall they think it’s cool.
WH: What TV shows are you into?
SR: I’m a sucker for all the Bravo TV shows. I watch the Kardashians. Matt and I recently got into the show “Veep” from On Demand. Michelle Beadle, she was with SportsNation, I think she Tweeted about the show “Veep” and how funny it is. It’s really good.
WH: What Atlanta radio stations are your favorites?
SR: I have to say The Bert Show (on Q100). I really love the Bert Show. They always have an interesting conversation going on. And I’ve gotten to know Bert (Weiss), Jeff (Dauler) and Kristin (Klingshirn) well. I can’t say enough about them.
WH: My wife loves The Bert Show. It’s on constantly at our house. You’ve been a guest of theirs, right?
Yes. October Gonzalez (wife of Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony) and I went on in the playoffs last year and they were super nice.
WH: Last question. Can we expect a Dream WNBA title and a Falcons Super Bowl win this year? Do you feel good about it?
SR: I think so. I do feel good about it. The Dream’s looking really good. We’re in a good position right now and in a good position to make a playoff run. As far as the Falcons, I feel like they’ve got a sour taste from how last year went, because it was so great and they were so close to the ultimate goal. With the core they have back and some great additions from draft and free agency, I think it’s going to be a really great year for Falcons fans at the Dome.