Phoenix Recruiting Battalion
August 02, 2017
MESA, Ariz. - A recruiter from the Phoenix Recruiting Battalion is using his background in football to make a positive impression on local high school students as an assistant coach.
Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Fry, recruiter, Superstition Recruiting Center, has been coaching for the Skyline Coyotes Junior Varsity Football team for the past year, using his experience as a former semi-professional player to help inspire the side.
Fry said he became acquainted with the team after recruiting at Skyline High School in Mesa, Arizona, which led to an invitation to coach the team's defensive backs.
"I go out at least twice a week to football practice and prep the team for their games," Fry said. "On game days, I'm always out there, either in my coaching shirt or my Army uniform if I don't have time to change."
Fry's coaching and mentorship made such an impression that he has been invited back for the 2017 season, after the Coyotes went 8-1 in 2016.
"The kids see me more as a role model than a coach and use my Army history as their inspiration," he continued. "I sell the Army to some extent, but I keep it football related for team building and morale, and the other coaches respect that."
Fry, originally from Rockford, Illinois, said he played semi-pro football from 2005-2007 as a cornerback in Beloit, Wisconsin, which gave him the experience and tools to coach effectively.
"I played for a team called the State Line Rush, which was right on the border of Illinois and Wisconsin," he explained. "During my second year, I was possibly going to take a scholarship to Indiana State, but I decided to join the Army because my mother was a single parent, and I didn't want to put her in a financial burden."
Fry now coaches the same position he once played, but also helps the Coyotes in other areas.
"I help the wide receivers as well because they have the same fundamental footwork as a cornerback," Fry said. "Primarily though my role is on the defensive side."
The response Fry has received from the players has been overwhelming, he said, with many seeking guidance.
"I have players coming left and right looking for mentorship, and it's paid off from a recruiting aspect," he added. "I've helped kids fill out their college packets and things like that... I'm not just about the Army mission itself. I want to help these kids out in general."
Fry said he's now fully integrated into the high school as a staff member, having been included in the school yearbook and also awarded his own office. He did, however, turn down the chance to coach with the varsity side, with his recruiting duties taking precedence.
"I was offered the chance to coach at the varsity level this year, but I respectfully turned it down because of my recruiting obligations," he said. "I can't give them 100 percent like I can with the juniors, where the workload isn't as much, although they're just as important."
The coaching experience has made Fry a better recruiter, he said, helping him in different aspects, both personally and professionally.
"I come from an educational background with family members who taught, so when I came on to recruiting, one of my first goals was to learn the educational piece," Fry said. "This ensures kids can do credit recovery and graduate on time. That's something I take a lot of pride in, because I know with all the programs I've learned, they'll graduate on time."