The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, Octooer 7, 1998 -17
CALIFORNIA DREAMIN': VAN RYN TRADES SURFBOARD FOR SKATES
BY T.J. BERKA - DAILY SPORTS WRITER
T he sun was gleaming in the California
sky, encouraging the natives to skip
work and spend their time on the
&ch. Tall blonde women in bikinis were all
over the place, making for a college guy's
Michigan defenseman Mike Van Ryn lived
this frat-boy fantasy this past summer, as he
worked as an intern for an advertising firm in
California. With all this time to play and look
at the beautiful women, what did Van Ryn
"I was working too much, so I really didn't
get a chance to see all the girls, really," Van
R n said. "I was all over the place, I was in
'ca, Montial, Las Vegas - I really did-
n't get too many weekends to sit on the
Although Van Ryn was jetsetting all over
the continent, he did get a chance to pick up
one sport that is prevalent in California -
"I didn't go to the beach too often during
the day," Van Ryn said. "I usually went at
night because that's when the surf is pretty
d. I'd just go out at night and surf."
hockey player with a surfboard? When
one thinks of hockey players from London,
Ont., blue-line passes , two-minute roughing
penalties and forechecking come to mind,
not 'Hanging 10' or skin-tight Body Glove
Stereotypes aside, Van Ryn learned quite a
bit about the art of surfing. His teammates,
used to icy rinks as opposed to breaking
waves, have been fairly supportive of Van
Ryn's new sport.
fANAlot of the guys think its pretty cool,"
an Ryn said. "You don't meet many kids
from Canada that actually know how. It was
fun - I really enjoyed it and I hope to do it
again next summer."
And Van Ryn needs all the support he can
get, because apparently he won't be spon-
sored by Ocean Pacific any time soon.
"I'm not good at all," Van Ryn said. "I just
got the basic idea of how to do it this summer
a I hope to do it more next summer."
an Ryn even bought a surfboard this sum-
mer, but it didn't make the trip back to Ann
Somehow, the thoughts of surfing Lake
Erie and tanning on Toledo beaches weren't
enough inspiration for Van Ryn to clear the
hockey sticks out of his closet in lieu of a
Van Ryn did make a little time between
working and kicking back to play some hock-
ey. California was the host of the World
11e Hockey Championships, and Van Ryn
represented his home country, Canada, and
helped the team win the gold medal.
"The inline championship was great," Van
Ryn said. "Any time you get to represent your
country it's an honor, and to win the gold
medal was just great"
Van Ryn wasn't done, though. Along with
winning a gold medal and picking up a tan,
he also was a first-round pick in the June
e New Jersey Devils, home of former
Michigan standouts Brendan Morrison and
John Madden, selected Van Ryn.
"Being drafted is always something you
dream about," Van Ryn said. "It's good to be
one step closer, but I have a lot of work still
"The best summer I had by far was this
*Season as No. 2
The defending national
champion Michigan hockey
team enters the season
ranked No. 2 in the nation.
CCHA teams Ohio State and
Michigan State also join the
Wolverines in the top five.
Boston College, which
Michigan defeated in the
NCAA ~ttle game last, year,
holds the top spot despite
receiving fewer first-place
votes than Michigan.
The U.S. College Hockey
Online poll is made up of 30
voters - 22 Division I
coaches and eight beat
U.S. College Hockey Online
*preseason poll (first place
1. Boston College (6)
2. Michigan (11)
3. North Dakota (10)
4. Ohio State (2)
5. Michigan State
6. Colorado College (1)
year. I met a lot of new people and did a lot
of cool things."
Although Van Ryn is now property of the
Devils, don't expect him to buy a lot of
Devils paraphernalia right off the bat.
Being from London, which is almost exact-
ly between Detroit and Toronto, Van Ryn had
a difficult choice of who to root for - Red
Wings or Maple Leafs?
Van Ryn went with the popular choice of
the students at Michigan - the two-time
defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings.
"I'm a Wings fan," Van Ryn said. "It's
tough. My mom and one sister were Leafs
fans, and my dad was the Wings fan, and I
just followed Dad, so I'm a true Wings fan."
Being from Canada, Van Ryn had to
choose sides - he couldn't be neutral. While.
hockey in the United States fights for popu-
larity, hockey in Canada is basically a reli-
It is rumored that Canadian parents give
their sons a puck and a stick in the hospital
right after they are born.
While that may be a myth, many Canadian
boys are in skates and on the rink right after
learning how to stand.
Van Ryn was no different, as his father
threw him onto the ice at an early age.
"I started off just like almost every other
kid in Canada on the pond back home," Van
Ryn said. "I learned how to skate almost as
soon as I could walk, and I started playing
hockey when I was four."
Van Ryn's parents must have seen some-
thing special in their son - they catered to
his hockey talents throughout his childhood.
"My parents have been really supportive of
me," Van Ryn said. "When I was younger, my
practices would be at six or seven in the
morning, and my parents would make sure
that I woke up and got there on time."
Luckily for Van Ryn, Michigan coach Red
Berenson doesn't have practices at the crack
of dawn - in fact, Michigan practices don't
'start until 3 p.m. most days. Not only has Van
Ryn been awake and to practice on time, he
also has looked to Berenson for guidance in
every aspect of life.
Berenson "has been like a father to me,"
Van Ryn said. "He is a very knowledgeable
man, probably the smartest person that I
know. He seems to know everything about
any subject you bring up."
That kind of knowledge was what Van Ryn
was looking for when he was visiting col-
leges two years ago. Although Van Ryn was
sought after by nearly every hockey-playing
school in the country, Van Ryn wanted to
attend one school.
And it wasn't Michigan State.
"This is where I wanted to go, so I really
didn't visit any other schools," Van Ryn said.
"I visited this school, decided that I wanted
to go here, and I didn't visit any of the other
With a national championship ring from
last season, one could say that Van Ryn was
pretty accurate in making his choice. While
Van Ryn would likely agree, coming to
Michigan did cause him to change his style
In high school, Van Ryn was an offensive
defenseman, looking to score a lot of goals
along with clearing the puck out of the zone.
On a Michigan team that had prolific scor-
ers such as Bill Muckalt and Matt Herr,
Berenson asked Van Ryn to concentrate more
Van Ryn did as Berenson asked, helping
solidify the defense in front of Marty Turco
and scoring just four goals.
"If you would have asked me last year, I
would have said my style was offensive," Van
VanRyn trded in
a summer by the
ocean fkr an
autumn on the
Ice with this
Ryn said. "When I came in, I was more of an
offensive-minded defenseman, but I learned
how to play the defensive game last year. I
would consider myself a two-way player
The newfound versatility raised his stock
enough to make him a first-round draft pick.
Although Van Ryn could leave now, take the
money and perhaps become an NHL regular,
he is at Michigan to stay - for now.
"Michigan is everything I hoped it to be,"
Van Ryn said. "While it's an honor to be
drafted, I plan to stay in school and have
something to fall back on when I'm done
with hockey. If I do think about leaving, I'll
talk to coach and we'll decide what my best
With a national championship, a surfer's
tan and a gold medal, Van Ryn has picked the
right options thus far in his life.
Along with those things, Van Ryn wants
one other thing -- another national title.
"Our goal is to work harder than we did
last year," Van Ryn said. "Everyone wants to
beat the University of Michigan, especially
since we are defending champions. But we
aren't defending anything -- we are going
out to win another one this year."
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