Engels a Quiet But Strong Leader for Westbrook Boys’ Basketball
Point guards are quite literally the playmakers on a basketball court. They run the offense, find open teammates and execute smooth plays. Ryan Engels embraced this role for the Westbrook boys’ basketball team, serving as a valuable leader on and off the court this winter.
The senior captain was always meant to play basketball, as he was drawn to it from a young age and never looked back.
“I have been playing basketball since I was really young, probably since elementary school. I started playing officially on a team when I was in third grade,” says Ryan. “My dad has always loved basketball. The first thing that he did when we bought our house was made sure that there was a basketball hoop.”
Ryan also played for the Westbrook boys’ soccer team this past fall as a goaltender when he was named to the First Team for the Shoreline Athletic Conference (SLC). He is also a member of the Knights boys’ tennis team. Ryan notes that he sees himself as a three-sport athlete, giving dedication and commitment to each sport during their respective seasons.
Westbrook boys’ basketball Head Coach Jeff Beeman praises Ryan for his reliability on the court as well as his ability to control the opposition’s best players.
“He is a really smart kid on the basketball court, understood everything that we were trying to do from a defensive standpoint to give us an advantage. He always knew where to be, and we would assign him to the other teams’ best player when we were playing man to man,” says Beeman. “In the last game of the season, we put him on Hale Ray’s best player who was an All-Shoreline kid, who was averaging over 20 points a game. He shut him down the entire second half, and it was one of the main reasons we were able to win the game.”
Being one of three captains, Ryan was called upon to help maintain a strong team atmosphere and keep everyone focused and on track on the court. He always strived to be a good role model for his teammates.
“I tried to lead by example; everyone on the team is friends, so I think that really helps. No one is at odds against each other,” says Ryan. “The fact that everyone is friends made it easy. I tried to lead by example and stay positive.”
Beeman notes that Ryan is a nice, humorous kid with a great sense of humor but one that would lead quietly rather than being too vocal.
“He was very similar to Vin Naccarato, who was very quiet. Ryan led more by actions, by the way that he behaved on the court, how much work he put into it,” says Beeman. “My team was not a big ‘rah-rah’ team; there was not a lot of hooting and hollering. We struggled as a team from the win-loss standpoint, and they just kept working. He was there all the time; he would come in and work hard at it.”
Throughout his high school career, Ryan was one of the lead ball handlers for the Knights, something his coach relied on him heavily for.
“He started playing varsity as a sophomore; there were kids that handled the ball more than him. His focus always seemed to be defense and ball handling,” says Beeman. “He did that for his junior year and senior year as well.”
Although the Knights only won two games this winter, Ryan still shared a lot of great memories with his teammates in his last soirée in a Westbrook uniform, especially when the squad grabbed a victory on Senior Night.
“Definitely Senior Night, being able to have one last game with all of my fellow seniors and being able to get the win was really good and fun,” says Ryan.
Beeman acknowledges that the Knights didn’t have the season they hoped for this year, largely due in part to the mental toll that it took on the players.
“The only challenges which we all faced were mental, to try to keep our enthusiasm up and keep moving forward,” says Beeman. “I sincerely believe that from day one to the last game, we showed improvement. It was a just a matter of not transferring to the win column very frequently.”
Ryan alludes to the record that Westbrook produced, and although they struggled, the positivity and constant support shared among the team made it all worth it for him.
“We definitely had a tough season, but I think the attitudes and how positive the team was made it more enjoyable than it could have been,” says Ryan.
After graduating from Westbrook High School, Ryan will attend the University of Connecticut (UConn) and hopes to keep basketball in his everyday life.
“I am going to be majoring in political science, and I want to be an attorney,” says Ryan. “I am not sure yet if I will be playing basketball; I might play at the intramural level with some of my friends that will be going to UConn.”