WESTFIELD, NJ — Out of the thousands of student athletes who have participated in varsity sports over the years at Westfield High School, only a select few have been fortunate enough to end their careers in possession of a school record.

Senior point guard Molly Ryan recently became the all-time leader in steals in girls varsity basketball history at WHS. Ryan is this week’s Ron Bansky and Associates Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week not only for her achievement, but also because of her tremendous character and development on and off the court.

Liz McKeon, the head coach of the girls varsity basketball team, describes Ryan’s best characteristics as her fight, will to win and determination. According to McKeon, Ryan brings her heart and soul to each and every game.

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“It doesn’t matter how she’s playing offensively or how the game is going; you know that Molly is always going to give you 110 percent and leave it all out on the court. The same can be said for her as a person. She has worked very hard to become the strong young woman that she is today,” McKeon said.

Ryan simply views hard work as part of her duty to do whatever she can to help the team win.

“Basketball requires every player on the court to work hard and fulfill their roles for the common good of the team,” she said. “Eventually, the hard work pays off.”

More so than other sports, basketball has stuck with Ryan because of its team aspect. With only five players on the court at a time, everyone is counted on to contribute. So it should be no surprise that Ryan was quick to credit her teammates when discussing her recent accolade.

“I am very fortunate to have been surrounded by great teammates who helped me get steals. Over the years, we worked very hard on defense and it allowed me to get myself in position to get steals,” Ryan said.

A team player, Ryan cares little about successes and accolades, unless they pertain to the team collectively. In fact, according to McKeon, Ryan was completely unaware that she had broken the steals record during the game.

“She had no idea,” McKeon said. “Molly doesn’t care about records or stats. Molly cares about winning, and it’s one of the qualities that I love most about her.”

Similarly, the proudest moment of Ryan’s career did not occur last week when she picked up her prestigious record; instead, it happened last season when the team collectively pulled through in a resilient moment, defeating New Providence last season to reach the Union County finals. More so than others, this moment stuck out to Ryan because of the team’s joint effort and perseverance.

Because Ryan has played the sport since first grade, basketball has long been a constant within her life. Over the years, playing has taught her many life lessons, including the ethics of “teamwork, determination and hard work,” she said.

McKeon concured that Ryan has developed through basketball, both as a person and specifically as a player.

“She has worked on her game every year and it shows: her shot, her defense, her overall vision of the game. She sees things most kids her age never comprehend as far as Xs and Os,” the coach said.

Next year, as a freshman at college, Ryan will continue to play basketball at Tufts University. There, she aspires to continue to get enjoyment out of the game she loves while also growing as a player and person.

As Ryan prepares to leave WHS basketball behind, McKeon prepares to lose the team’s heart and soul. Although she is sad to see Ryan go, McKeon said she is “so excited to see what the future holds for her, as most fans are.”     

Jared Greenspan is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.

The Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Ron Bansky & Associates Allstate Agency. Located 502 East Broad St., the agency has been protecting local families and business owners for over 15 years. Call them at 908-301-0711 for a new auto, home or life insurance quote this week and if you mention the Allstate WHS Athlete of the Week they will make a $25 contribution to the Westfield Boosters Association! To learn more, visit ronbansky.com.