Marketing & Communications

Staying the course: Ryan Sanner

“A man with a plan” describes graduating senior Ryan Sanner of Bowling Green. Purposefully and steadily, as a student at BGSU he has pursued his lifelong love of sport. He will finish this month with a major in sport management and a minor in journalism.

Sanner, who has been in a wheelchair since 2003, has compiled a resume and substantial portfolio of work — including sports stories written for The BG News and the Sentinel-Tribune to promotional materials for the Wood County Special Olympics — that reveal his commitment to excellence as well as his devotion to the myriad aspects of sport.

He got his start as a sports lover early, he said. “My parents used to take me a lot to hockey games when I was little, and to basketball games,” Sanner said. His mother, Carol, was a longtime employee in University Advancement and has recently retired.

Of all the sports he has watched and written about, football is his favorite, especially college games. “I like the college atmosphere and the school spirit,” he said.

Recognizing the importance of communication in sports-related work, he chose to minor in journalism. “With my abilities it made sense,” he said.

He developed a plan that enabled him to graduate in four and a half years including his practicum and internship experiences, ending with a 3.6 grade point average and the admiration and appreciation of faculty, staff and community members.

Sanner found that taking 12 credit hours a semester was ideal for him. But that meant also taking classes every summer. “I haven’t taken a break,” he said. “I wanted to stay on track, so I went through the summer.”

“That was good planning on his part,” said Dr. Nancy Spencer, School of Human Movement, Sport and Leisure Studies, with whom he took several courses. She was also his sport management internship adviser. “It’s a challenge for students to graduate in that time and get in their practicum and their internship. He set a course for himself and stuck with it.”

He has received assistance from the Office of Disability Services, which arranged for accessible desks that he can roll up to, note-takers, and extended time for exams. “The disability services staff has been wonderful,” he said. “BGSU is pretty accessible, especially the union.”

The only complaint he has had is the weather. “I hate bundling up in bad weather,” he admits. But weather also is a big factor in sports, and he wanted to study it. The geography department moved the weather class from Hanna Hall to the more accessible Eppler, Sanner said.

The biggest challenge was the first week of classes. “I was really nervous. It was a lot different from high school. Would everything be in place, would the desk be there, who’s going to help me? But it all came together. After I’d gotten one semester down, I thought, ‘Ok, I can do this.’”

Sanner has had the support of his two longtime best friends and fellow BGSU students, Tim Moomaw and Kyle Hammersmith. Hammersmith, whom he has known since early childhood, shares his obsession with sports and will also be graduating this month.

Using a laptop and Dragon voice-recognition software to do his writing, Sanner has produced high-quality work for a variety of outlets.

Readers of the Sentinel-Tribune have enjoyed his articles for the weekly Sports Zone section. “I covered the gamut of sports,” Sanner said. “I like them all.”

He helped boost campus engagement with BGSU athletes by doing a series for The BG News called “Get to Know the Falcons,” in which he profiled student-athletes from nearly every sport, from distance running to swimming and gymnastics. “That was one of my favorite assignments,” he said.

For his practicum, he wrote press releases promoting BGSU Recreation and Wellness programs and facilities. “I learned a lot from Lona Leck, my supervisor there,” Sanner said.

His writing also appeared in The (Toledo) Blade, which he counts among his biggest successes.

Sanner brought the same approach that he used for his classes to his athletic communications internship with the Wood Country Special Olympics, Spencer said. “He knows how to pace himself and tackled everything right from the start instead of waiting until the end. It’s really impressive, what he accomplished. He not only met but exceeded his goals.”

Special Olympics coordinator Mary Sehmann could not agree more. “He’s been fantastic. He is more independent and works more independently than many students. There were so many things we’ve always wanted to do but just didn’t have the time or the staff for,” she said. “You always knew you could rely on Ryan to get the job done and to do it well. Plus his writing skills are superior.”

BGSU sport management students are responsible for seeking out and arranging their internships, Spencer said, which also prepares them for their job search after graduation.

“He got together a plan and approached us with a proposal for an internship,” Sehmann remembers. “We were very impressed with him and felt that he could handle it. Not only did he, but it was challenging for us to find enough work to keep him busy. He works very quickly.”

Sanner provided the Wood County Special Olympics with marketing tools such as a brochure, blog and newsletter. He also updated the organization’s Facebook page with sports scores and information. His capstone project was assisting with a major fundraising dinner, for which he researched donors, doubling their number from 2011; collected silent-auction donations, created press releases and other materials and helped boost the total funds raised from the previous year by 45 percent.

As evidenced by his GPA, his classroom achievements are equally stellar. “He’s been a joy to work with,” said Spencer. “He’s very conscientious and contributed a lot to class.”

In turn, Sanner spoke highly of Spencer, saying, “She’s always open and tells you like it is. She likes to see success for her students.” He also admires journalism faculty member Julie Hagenbuch, who “is always there to help students,” and Dr. Ray Schneider, his sport management degree adviser in the School of Human Movement, Sport and Leisure Studies, who provided strong guidance in planning his coursework.

His next step is beginning his job search. He hopes to work locally part time and wants to continue to volunteer with Special Olympics and other community organizations.
“He has a lot to contribute to whoever hires him,” Spencer said. 


 (Posted December 10, 2012 )