Former Cyclone gets set for final season at Furman

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR Correspondent

   Venturing into his senior season at Furman, Ryan Presnell has high hopes of a Southern Conference title this year, as well as a fulfilling career after his collegiate days have come to an end.
   In speaking with Ryan recently, I asked him about his thoughts on college life at Furman.
   "I'm enjoying it, and it's a good experience for me," he said. "I'm glad I got to come down here. Furman's a great university with great athletics."
   Ryan mentioned the fact that he's met a lot of people that he feels can further his life, and hopes he can further theirs.
   Optimistic about the baseball for this year, he feels as though the Paladins are making increasing leaps and bounds with their program.
   "The team has improved in my four years here, and it's really promising the recruits they've brought in," says Presnell.
   As far as academics goes, Ryan feels like he's acquired the knowledge that he will be able to use in life, and therefore it has been a successful for him in attending Furman.
   The biggest highlight of Ryan's career at Furman so far was competing for the Southern Conference title in his sophomore year.
   "I didn't have that great of a season, but we came in as an eighth seed and went all the way to the championship," said Presnell.
   He says it was a thrill to go in as an underdog, and feels like the Paladins are in that situation again this season.
   Presnell said it was a personal decision that made him decide on Furman after looking at different schools, and how they fit him.
   "Basically, I felt like Furman was the best school for me," he explained. "The people here are the people I want to be surrounded by as far as the coaching staff and players."
   In his last season at Furman, Ryan says you've got to be thinking about winning a championship, and he thinks his squad can get the job done.
   "I think our pitching is a lot deeper, and as far as position players go, we have a lot more speed and talent than we've had in past years," said Presnell.
   Academically, Ryan is majoring in political science and history, as he wishes to achieve a dream in politics.
   "I want to be involved in politics, definitely working in that area so I can be able to change peoples' lives, and with politics I feel like I can do that," Presnell said.
   Along with the help of a friend, Ryan has already started a political action committee called "Appalachian Prosperity Project," and feels that it will be beneficial to the Appalachian region and its people.
   "I've learned a great deal about political action committee functions, and how they can make an influence on people's life," says Presnell.
   In discussing his past at Elizabethton, Ryan says his most memorable moment has to be in his senior season playing football.
   "It was amazing when we made it to the state semifinals for the first time in a long time," said Presnell.
   He said it was great to see a community pull together like it did, and be behind a common goal.
   "North American Rayon had went out of business at that time, so lot of people were unemployed, but I think our football team had a lot of influence in the community, and it was great to walk around and hear people talk about the Elizabethton Cyclone team," said Presnell.
   In his four years playing baseball at Elizabethton, Ryan said he saw great improvement in the program by seeing players make great leaps and bounds, not only as players, but also as men.
   "I feel like that program fostered some great athletes, and a lot of the guys I played with have also went onto play college sports," says Presnell.
   Ryan said he still talks to a lot of people he played sports with, and guys he competed against during high school.
   "A lot of the people that played in area high schools have went on to play collegiate sports, and it's fun to play against them when you play teams like ETSU and Georgia Southern," said Presnell.
   Four people were influential in Ryan's career, as he mentions his father, mother, Harold Ellis, and "Pappy" Crowe.
   "My mother was always there to wash my uniforms, and that was a dirty job literally, and I can't count the number of times my father took me to batting practice, and was hit by balls on his foot, shoulders or back," says Presnell.
   Ryan said when he heard the news of Harold Ellis' recent passing, that it hit him pretty hard.
   "He may of been the most knowledgeable person that I have came into contact with, as far as teaching me more than just the skills you have out on the field," said Presnell.
   Crowe was also inspirational to Ryan, as he competed on the summer league teams under his guidance.
   "He poured himself into teaching young people the game of baseball, and I was lucky enough to be one of those people," says Presnell.
   My last question for Ryan was about his thoughts on the tragedy of the World Trade Centers, since his primary goal in life is a career in politics.
   "It's absolutely despicable that someone came within our borders and attacked innocent civilians," Presnell said. "I think this shows we have to appreciate that we have freedom of speech, and don't have to go out and blow up people to get our point across."