TBT: Blair Ryland
Every Thursday, GoStanford.com will present an interview with a Stanford women’s gymnastics alumna. This week, sophomore Maggie Teets features Blair Ryland (‘11) who earned a degree in human biology.
Maggie: Can you describe what you have been doing since graduating from Stanford?
Blair: After completing my human biology degree and pre-medicine requirements in 2011, I moved back to northern Virginia to be closer to my family. During that first year, I worked as a medical assistant in a dermatology clinic while applying for medical school. I started school the fall of last year and am currently a second-year student at the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia.
While I love being back in my home state and able to see my family more often, I miss my second family (SWG) so much and try to visit The Farm as often as possible. Fortunately, my schedule allowed me to visit last month during Homecoming Weekend, and it was such a blessing to see so many familiar faces!
Maggie: What lessons have you carried with you from your experience on the Stanford gymnastics team?
Blair: Though it may sound cliché, one of the most important lessons I learned and still apply every day is how to be a helpful teammate. Whether your teammates are athletes, coworkers, classmates, or neighbors, you still have the ability to inspire, encourage, lend a hand, or brighten someone’s day. When you do your best to bring out the best in others, it brings out the best in you, as well.
Some other tools I picked up through SWG include setting short- and long-term goals, sticking with those goals or adjusting them when necessary, dealing with adversity, and focusing on the big picture.
Maggie: What are your favorite Stanford memories?
Blair: Too many to name, for sure! I miss attending football games, even if we were only 1-11 like my freshman year. I miss celebrating our win over No. 1 USC the following year with a huge bonfire in the Quad. I miss band run, fountain hopping, picnics on the Oval, hiking the Dish, and walking down Palm Drive.
I miss dancing in the locker room, theme days at practice, traveling as a team, “L-E-L” and “Whose House?” cheers at meets, standing on the podium with my fellow teammates. But most of all, I simply miss biking through our gorgeous campus on the way to class because it’s such an inspiring place and you’re constantly surrounded by so many inspiring people.
Maggie: What was your favorite competition?
Blair: This one’s a close call, but I’m going to go with Regionals my freshman year (2007). During the 2005 and 2006 seasons, SWG failed to qualify for the NCAA Championships, which was very disappointing. As freshmen, we hadn’t experienced what the upperclassmen had the prior two seasons and they wanted to make sure we never knew what that heartbreak felt like. Fortunately, because of them, we never had to.
That year, we worked harder as a team than I ever had before, and all that hard work came together at Regionals. I remember heading back into the locker room after our final rotation, looking at each of my teammates, and seeing either pure joy or tears on everyone’s face. We were all experiencing the first time any of us had qualified to NCAAs as a team, and it was the most overwhelming feeling of accomplishment I had ever felt.
Maggie: Do you have any advice for the girls on the SWG team now?
Blair: Work hard. You’re in one of the most inspiring places in the world, surrounded by incredible people who want to see you succeed. Take courses that challenge you, push yourself harder in the gym, set higher goals for yourself in both areas, and work hard to achieve them.
It’s ok if you fall short; you have an entire family who loves you unconditionally. However, don’t forget to play hard too! Make new friends, set aside time for activities that make you happy, and don’t be afraid to try something you’ve never done.
Take in all that Stanford has to offer because, I promise you, it’ll go by a lot faster than you think.