Ryan Spanich is an instructor and coach at Impact One Athletics located just over the South Carolina border from the Charlotte area. But there is more to Ryan than what his job implies. Ryan has had a unique and interesting journey to this point in his life and that is the Ryan Spanich story that I would like to share.
Ryan’s colorful journey
Ryan grew up in Texas where he played Little League baseball and then junior high basketball – in addition to gymnastics training. He picked up a little golf as he got older, but found that his interests circled back to gymnastics. So he stuck with it through high school – enduring a little teasing along the way. After all, gymnastics training isn’t the typical path for a high school boy.
Ryan was also intrigued by dance. This started at a young age when Michael Jackson was moonwalking across stages. Ryan was lured into the videos by the amazing energy in the way the King of Pop danced.
In his genes
You can see Ryan’s parents in him.
Ryan’s mom – with a modern dance and arts background – is a highly creative and competitive perfectionist.
Ryan’s dad – a mathematics scientist – is an immensely analytical and competitive perfectionist.
Ryan is truly a blend of the two. He has blossomed into a creative and passionate performer, a focused and driven competitor, an imaginative and innovative choreographer and the analytical, precise – and supportive – instructor and coach. His DNA and experiences have given Ryan a colorful foundation and that why he’s so wonderfully unique.
His own way
Another factor that could be DNA is Ryan’s attraction to the path less traveled. Ryan has never been shy about following his passions and interjecting his personality into the way he performs, competes and coaches. It’s a trait that has been evident since his youth. Remember? He took up gymnastics in the midst of Little League baseball and hip-hop dance in the midst of teenage peer pressure.
The gym business
After high school, Ryan went off to college in Maine, not for athletics, but in pursuit of an academic degree. However, gymnastics kept luring him back and he couldn’t resist the bait:
- Coaching at a kids’ gymnastics facility
- Running an all star cheer and dance program
- Owning an all star cheer gym for 5 years
When Ryan relocated, he was able to focus on teaching and coaching in his position at Impact One. Ryan shares his creativity and innovation in coaching cheerleading and gymnastics and by launching a hip-hop program to share his love and talent for dance with athletes.
A rare breed
Ryan’s strengths combine to create a unique coach, instructor and dancer. Gymnastics, dance, cheerleading performing and coaching are all rolled into one. It’s rare but it is what you find in Ryan. It’s difficult to decide which skill is his best.
I think he’s best at following his passion.
Six facts I learned about Ryan speak volumes about him.
- Coached gymnastics until age 27
- Competed in all star cheerleading and all star dance until 31
- Competed at the cheerleading and dance worlds
- Coached a dance team that had won the worlds
- His teams are known for their tumbling technique
- He is known for his unique success in coaching coaches
These facts made me want to learn about the things he is passionate about.
Can it be that Ryan’s passions are what keep him excited about everything he does?
Family | Don’t let what you’ve read so far make you think Ryan is all about competing, performing, coaching and teaching. He has a beautiful family. Ryan and his wife, Amanda, have cheerleading and dance in common and both are instructor/coaches at Impact One. They have a daughter, Ahnalisse, who is a fearless tumbler. I know that because I met them at the gym.
Dance | Ryan’s attraction to gymnastics will probably never disappear. But today, the limitless world of dance has captured Ryan’s heart.
As we discussed the differences in the two, Ryan shared, “Gymnastics has a ceiling. You age out of when you can perform at a level that is satisfying for an athlete. In dance, you can use skills with precision and creativity for years beyond what gymnastics allows and dance gives you a platform to emote mood, drama, and personality that gymnastics doesn’t.”
Ryan’s dance moves are legendary because he does put so much of himself into his performances.
As far as dance goes, Amanda shared with me, that is where Ryan really shines.
“Ryan is an excellent gymnast, an innovative and energetic tumbler, a compassionate, supportive and demanding coach. But you can literally see him come alive when he’s dancing. He is in his element.”
Gymnastics | Ryan grew up focusing on the precision, repetition and control gymnastics requires. He learned to analyze, fix and improve. It’s all about knocking a few hundredths of a point off of your score.
Tumbling is the perfect outlet for Ryan’s perfectionist traits to be unleashed. There is power, height, speed, exact landings and control of form. When he or one of his athletes bundles all of that into a double back, it’s awesome.
Cheerleading | Cheerleading is where Ryan can pull dance and gymnastics together. Ryan’s choreography blends the two within cheerleading. His unique tumbling technique gives the teams he coaches a defining quality.
Gymnastics and dance, notes Ryan, are just different. Gymnastics is very technical. Every detail is judged by minute hundredths of points. Dance has a higher level of technique that is free to thrive outside of the restraints of technical checklists.
A fire for teaching
I saw a different passion emerge as we began to talk about coaching.
Ryan’s style is constructive, encouraging and supportive as he’s training his athletes.
He sees it. He figures it out. He articulates it.
Once he can articulate it to his athletes, he can help them understand how to fix it and why it is important to fix it. Once they gain this understanding, their real learning happens.
Ryan’s coaching style helps students to thrive. He has been there and knows what they need at the moment they need it. And he can still show them what he’s trying to help them accomplish.
Coach Ryan is calm, patient and encouraging in the gym, fiery and exuberant at competitions. The emotions fit what his students need from him.
The mentor mentality
Ryan shared a short story with me:
A college coach once gave a student a chance to help him teach. He helped the student to grow and mentored him in “elite” programs. And he did it all for free.
The student was Ryan. Now Ryan gives back in his own way by emulating that coach.
“I suppose sharing knowledge and offering opportunity is ingrained in me. From my mentor, I learned a lot about not only teaching but about myself. I look for opportunities to pay this forward.”
Living his passion
Whether you see Ryan coach his athletes through insecurities of nailing a landing or demonstrate it perfectly, or you watch his amazing dance moves or see his method of mentoring another coach, you have to admit that getting to know him is quite an experience.
Ryan Spanich is living his passion. He is doing what he loves with the people he loves. And he’s doing it with his energetic style, precise polish and his own unique brand of excellence.