American author and political activist, Helen Keller, is quoted as saying, "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved." Tyler County's own Ryan Summers can relate.
Summers, the son of Richard and Tracy Summers of Sistersville, will graduate from Bethany College on Saturday and was recently recognized for his outstanding character by being presented with the Derek Hoffman Memorial Award by the Bethany Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
The award was presented at the all-sports banquet held at the end of the school year with former West Virginia University Mountaineer head football coach Bill Stewart as the Keynote Speaker. Stewart, a teacher at Sistersville High School in the 1970's, taught Richard and Tracy Summers as students, and was on hand to congratulate Summers on his award.
This prestigious award is presented to a senior male and female athlete who, in their career at Bethany College, have approached every moment with energy and have taken every person into consideration. Honorees of this Memorial Award are ones who live their lives with others in mind.
The Derek Hoffman Memorial Award is named after Derek Hoffman, a student-athlete on the football and basketball teams at Bethany from 1998-2003, but also helped out with numerous other teams and throughout the athletic department. Tragically, he passed away following an automobile accident just hours after graduating from Bethany in 2003. This award is given away each year to remember the spirit and dedication he brought to Bethany.
A pre-physical therapy major at Bethany, as well as a member of the Psi Chi Psychology Honor Society, Summers earned a spot on the President's Athletic Conference (PAC) Academic honor roll twice during his career for having a 3.60 GPA or higher during his semester of competition. He was also a student athletic trainer for football each of the last two seasons.
Athletically, Summers was a four-year member of the Bison basketball program. He helped Bethany win PAC Championships in 2011 and 2012 and set a single-season school record for wins with 25 this past season. The program played in the postseason all four years the Tyler County native was on the team, including ECAC Tournament bids in '09 and '10 and NCAA Tournament bids in '11 and '12. Bethany's record during his career was 82-33, making him the third-winningest four-year senior class in Bison basketball history.
Hewas also a four-year member of the SAAC at Bethany and also served as the Vice President for the President's Athletic Conference SAAC this year.
Though he did not receive a large amount of playing time on the court throughout his career at Bethany, coaches, assistants and other sources at the NCAA Division III College attest to the fact that Summers never stopped working, never let his enthusiasm wane, and never stopped supporting his team and team mates.
"I have coached at every level in the past 24 years and I can truthfully say that I have never coached a better team mate or better person than Ryan Summers," said head coach of the 2011 and 2012 PAC Champion Bethany Bison's men's basketball team, Andrew Sachs.
"Ryan is a total giver. He works hard every single day and brings a positive attitude along with him every single day."
"He has been part of some really good teams, teams who have set school records here, and he's been a very important part of that. A lot of guys can say that they were part of something big, but he can say it and mean it, because he was."
Summers, a 2008 graduate of Tyler Consolidated High School was also a four year member of the Silver Knight basketball team, scoring more than 1,000 points in career. He was named to the first team LKC, first team OVAC, second team All-State and was nominated as a McDonalds All Star High School player.
As for the future, he has been accepted into the Wheeling Jesuit Physical Therapy program where he plans to work on his Doctorate.
"I do not have a doubt in my mind that this young man will go on to be unbelievably successful in his chosen career," coach Sachs said. "I know he will."