Have you ever wondered what it would be like to catch a pass from an NFL quarterback or to play football against players you grew up idolizing on TV? It sounds like something we only dream of when playing football with our friends in our back yard. For Ryan Spadola this dream is a reality. Ryan Spadola is from Howell, New Jersey and is currently signed as a wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins. On Ryan’s most recent trip back home I was able to catch up with him and get a look inside the life of an NFL player.
Like most kids, Ryan’s football journey started in his back yard with his friends. Ryan’s Dad introduced him to the Howell Pop Warner League when he was very young. Surprisingly enough, Ryan admitted to me that “At first, football practice was something that I dreaded.” In his tenure with the Howell Pop Warner League, Ryan was able to play on many championships teams. This sparked his interest and carried him into playing football at Freehold Township High School. In Ryan’s high school career, he lettered in track and football where he set the school’s single season reception record with 44 receptions. In track, Spadola was just as good, breaking records in the Javelin and other events like the 55, 200, 400 meter runs. Spadola also became a member of New Jersey’s top 100 superstar athletes and the top 170 Athletes in the country. For Spadola “playing football and track was just for fun”. The NFL was just a dream he had in the back of his mind. When Ryan graduated high school in 2009 he was not offered a scholarship to play in college. This would have crushed most people, but not Ryan. He told me that “not getting a scholarship gave me the fuel I needed to prove people wrong, something I’ve been doing my whole career.” Ryan speculates that he didn’t get a scholarship because people didn’t think he could perform on the next level. Ryan said that this opportunity gave him “the extra drive I needed to have those breakout seasons and make it to the NFL.” At Lehigh University, Ryan thrived, breaking the records for both single season receiving yards and reception yards. By the end of his career at Lehigh, Ryan was second all-time in career receptions and yards. All of Ryan’s hard work paid off when he was signed by the Jets in 2013. During the preseason, Spadola continued the pattern that he started in high school and lead the Jets in receptions. Ryan ended the preseason with a bang when he had a 70 year catch and run which led to a game winning field goal. When I asked what it was like to play in a game in the NFL, Ryan simply said “the feeling is indescribable”. As a member of both the Jets and the Dolphins, Ryan has had the opportunity to play against players like Packman Jones, Darrelle Revis and AJ Green, but Spadola says that the coolest thing about being a Pro is “being able to give back and be a role model for kids that are in the same position I was in.”
I would like to thank Mr. Spadola for doing this interview with me. I wish him the best of luck in years to come and I hope to see his name on the ProBowl roster someday. He truly is living the dream.
See Ryan’s ESPN special.
More moves from Ryan Spadola