Humans of Harker: Soccer savant

Ryan Tobin leads his team through laughter

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Sally Zhu

“I love to make people laugh or smile or try to brighten up their day, just a little bit. That’s probably one of my favorite things to do. I’ve really enjoyed the brief interactions that I’ve had with everyone. I’ve known some of [my classmates] for 13 years now. It’s kind of hard to not like them, even a little bit,” Ryan Tobin (12) said.

Wearing a deep green Harker jersey and blue cleats, Ryan Tobin (12) sprints to his opponent, getting closer and closer to the soccer ball. The crowd sits on the bleachers of Davis Field, watching anxiously, holding their breaths. Eyes focused with determination, in a rush of adrenaline, Ryan steals the ball. He dribbles it away, the white and bolded number ‘17’ flashing as he runs.

Soccer has always been a huge part of Ryan’s life, with his games, teammates and the whole community being part of some of his best memories.

“Last year, we went really deep into the playoffs, and no team did that before, so we had an extended season, by a month or so,” Ryan said. “We kept on winning. We never lost at home, and the whole community was behind us. It was a lot of fun, and it brought us really close. [I love] the community it builds and spending time in practice, in the locker room or talking to people.”

Throughout his years at Harker, Ryan has always been a big influence in the soccer program. Soccer coach Brighid Wood, who has coached Ryan since sixth grade, describes him as a strong force both on and off the field.

“Even when Ryan was in sixth grade, he had to step up,” Wood said. “Ryan was the kind of guy that you had to tell him once, and then that was it—he got it. He understood what it took beyond soccer and beyond the soccer fields. He didn’t really need to wait for a coach to be there.”

Always ready to face any challenge, Ryan adapts to new situations and different positions while maintaining his positive and optimistic mindset, projecting it onto those around him. Once he sets his mind to something, he does it. His upbeat mentality allows him to do his best on the field and always follow through with his goals.

“I don’t want to let my team down. Last year I played center back, which is the last defender, and that’s not a position I normally play,” Ryan said. “But we needed someone to step up, so I played it. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t really know what I was doing, so it was more like, ‘Oh, I need to do my best and try to play my hardest so I don’t let everyone down,’ then ‘I can actually do this’, and [I carried] that kind of [mentality throughout] that entire year.”

Ryan’s quick thinking and intelligence is not only present on the soccer field, but it is also around other activities. His competitive nature feeds into his aptitude and ability to learn any new skill with an air of finesse. Close friend Shaunak Narain (12) describes Ryan’s abilities.

“He’s naturally very good at both video games and sports,” Shaunak said. “But if he starts a new random game or starts playing a sport, he’ll just be really good at it. He’s just really good at picking up new skills.”

Ryan carries his energy and leadership qualities off the field and into his friendships and interactions with those around him as well. Close friend Bayden Yazalina (12) describes his usual interactions with Ryan.

“It’s always a good time [with Ryan]. I’m usually laughing a lot,” Bayden said. “We work well together, we can always crack jokes or work on school projects together. It’s very easygoing.”

Ryan believes in the importance of laughter and enjoys being the light in someone’s day.

“I love to make people laugh or smile or try to brighten up their day, just a little bit. That’s probably one of my favorite things to do. I’ve really enjoyed the brief interactions that I’ve had with everyone,” Ryan said. “I’ve known some of [my classmates] for 13 years now. It’s kind of hard to not like them, even a little bit.”

The friendships and memories Ryan has created over the years are some of his favorite aspects of high school. Ryan immensely values establishing good friendships, with them being an essential part of having a memorable high school experience.

“Surround yourself with people you actually like and [those] who bring out the best in you. Have your friends and create memories: it’s what you’re here for.” Ryan said.

Ryan’s humor and outgoing personality is present throughout all his activities, especially as an active member of the Harker Spirit Club. Harker spirit weeks are some of Ryan’s favorite moments. Whether it be beating the teachers in a game of tug-of-war or simply painting an acrylic eagle mural, Ryan always looks forward to the moments he shares with his class.

“[Spirit weeks] are incredibly fun, and it builds a lot of class spirit,” Ryan said. “But looking back at the spirit weeks in homecoming week … it’s my favorite memory. The spirit weeks, those are the best weeks of high school.”

Despite the challenges Ryan has had to face, he always strives to keep his positive mindset. His optimism allows him to maintain his motivation and encourages him to support his teammates, friends and everyone around him whenever he can.

“Ryan is a true leader, in every sense of the word. And to me, that’s why we ended up [Central Coast Section] champions in his junior year — we saw it coming,” Wood said. “Guys like Ryan are the reason those things happen, because without him, kids don’t play, [and] kids don’t stick with it. [They] don’t see the end results. He’s one of the guys that I want to say believed that the championship was there before we even realized that it could be there.”