POTSDAM - Ryan Hanretty will become the eighth men’s lacrosse player inducted in the 130-member SUNY Potsdam Sports Hall of Fame this Saturday at a ceremony at the Knowles Conference Center on campus at 11:30 a.m.
Hanretty played on the Bears from 2002-2005 and was known for being one of the conference’s most formidable net minders. Among his career statistics in goal, he compiled 18 wins (most all-time in program history) with a 10.78 goals-against-average, a .607 save percentage and 764 saves in 2,755 minutes of action.
Hanretty ‘05 will be joined by Bears alumni Tom Hutchinson ‘77 (men’s basketball) and Jodi Ziemba ‘05 (women’s soccer) as inductees into the Class of 2014.
The Williamsville, N.Y. native was a 2005 All-American, a member of the SUNYAC All-Tournament Team in both 2004 and 2005, an All-SUNYAC Second Team selection in 2004, and an All-SUNYAC First Team selection in 2005.
He ranks first on Potsdam’s saves-per-game list (20.88), first in saves, and is 10th on the all-time save percentage list.
Hanretty started eight games in goal and collected 101 saves as a freshman and then became more of a fixture into the starting lineup by his sophomore season. In his next three seasons, Hanretty proved to be one of the SUNYAC’s most difficult goalies to score upon as he made 221, 224 and 218 saves in successive seasons.
He began playing lacrosse on a regular basis when he was in eighth grade and split time between playing that and hockey. He recalls starting out as an attacker for the first couple of days, but ultimately moved into playing goalie out of the team’s necessity. It’s a position he would claim as his own and play continuously for the next nine years of his life.
“I used too much equipment at first,” said a chuckling Hanretty. “I wore probably every bit of equipment that an indoor lacrosse player could possibly wear. But, because I would wear all of this outside, I would sweat like crazy. I did this because I wasn’t used to getting hit by the ball. And by ninth grade, I adjusted, put on much lighter stuff and was ready to go.”
In high school, he became a more serious player and played all four years at Williamsville South, located 15 miles north of Buffalo. After playing on the junior varsity squad for his freshman year and part of the sophomore year, he graduated to varsity and became their full-time starter.
“I got more and more involved as any kid does when you’re exceling at something, “ he said.
“I would play all summer long. By my junior year, I really realized that I wanted to try to play in college. Even though I excelled in hockey too, I felt that I was a better lacrosse player. Plus, I liked the game more and had more fun doing it.”
On the recruitment trail, Hanretty had drummed up interest from SUNY Cortland, Stevens and SUNY Potsdam among others.
Cortland had been on the radar because that was where his older sister had attended. But while participating in a lacrosse camp, Hanretty met with [assistant coach] Todd Kaiser. Admittedly, Hanretty didn’t think much of it at the time.
In the fall of his senior year in high school, Bears men’s lacrosse coach Rick Berkman called and asked Hanretty if he would like to come up for a visit to Potsdam.
“The coaches offered me playing time, told me that they weren’t bringing in a ton of new goalies and a new turf field had just been constructed,” Hanretty said. “I was sold. I wanted to get away, it was a brand new experience and opportunity in front of me. Everything about it seemed like the right thing to do.”
Hanretty’s competitive nature took root almost immediately and his level of play seemed to rise to match the level of competition.
“The whole level of play was completely different than it was high school,” Hanretty said. “Everybody was a skilled player and took the game more seriously. With my personality, I took to it. The level of competition raised my skill level significantly to where I ended up working a lot harder because of that. I was about getting to practice early and staying late.”
Team chemistry was another factor that helped Hanretty mold into a successful player. Because these Bears teams from the early to mid 2000’s were adept at bonding, the lack of jealousy between teammates created a trustworthy environment.
“We really had a lot of camaraderie within the group,” he said. “There was a lot of support. There wasn’t a lot of jealousy, which I think there could have been. I didn’t feel like I was stepping on toes. It was a matter of having people around that liked you and you liked having them around just as much.”
Before games, Hanretty would fire it a ball off the wall from close proximity. Holding a basketball up around his shoulder, he would pop it off the wall and catch it to improve his reflexes.
As a student of the game, he would study game film religiously and would take scouting reports into every game by making his own notes for each player. He studied tendencies of each player of whether they would like to fire a highlight top corner shot or try to scoot it past the goalie with a low bouncer. Anticipating what the player was going to do next gave him an edge heading into each match.
“You had to be a student of the game and be aware of those things,” he said.
The games that stuck out in his head were the ones when the stage was set for the brightest spotlight.
“Those games during my junior and senior years in the SUNYAC playoffs at Cortland,” Hanretty states emphatically.
“It goes back to the point I was making earlier about elevating your game when you consider the competition” Hanretty said. “Your play goes up because of the people around you. The games weren’t necessarily close on the scoreboard, but there were closer than they appeared.”
When Bears athletic director Jim Zalacca made the call to Hanretty to inform that he had been chosen for the Hall of Fame in January, Hanretty initially thought something else.
“We had just moved our office at work,” Hanretty said. “Zalacca gets on the phone and starts off by saying, ‘What I’m about to tell you’...and at that point, I figured something bad may have happened. Then, when he told me, I was going nuts. It was extremely humbling and I was honored. There are seven other guys who were inducted as men’s lacrosse players. It will definitely will neat to be able to go into Maxcy Hall and see my plaque on the wall. That’s going to be pretty cool.”
To this day, Hanretty still keeps in touch with the team and will give his old coach Berkman a call to catch up. He says that every February, just before the season would normally get going, he’ll get the itch and call Berkman to see how the program is shaping up.
Hanretty still plays lacrosse, but admittedly not as much as he would like because of work life. He plays in club leagues and tries to get into a tournament in Lake Placid every year.
Hanretty currently works as the Director of Branch Operations for Upstate Advisors in a Financial Company in Buffalo.
“It was nice that I was able to get into the Hall of Fame this soon,” he said. “It was somewhat expected that I would get in, but I didn’t expect a call from Zalacca in January about this so soon. It is truly a great honor.”