Favorite athlete: Georges Niang
Favorite team: Eagles, Phillies, Sixers
Favorite memory competing in sports: Opening Night this year scoring 16 on 6/6 shooting against rival Quakertown with the flu.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: Facing Aiden Weaver, I struck out on a slider five feet outside in front of 20 MLB scouts.
Music on playlist: All types of music
Future plans: Attend college to study engineering
Words to live by: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
One goal before turning 30: Have a great job that I love.
One thing people don’t know about me: I am an excellent chess player
By Craig Ostroff
Ryan Hass is a firm believer that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – that everyone needs to embrace their role if a team is to be successful.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t circumstances where one person can make all the difference.
The Pennridge senior – a 3-point specialist in basketball and Second-Team All-League first baseman in baseball – points to one recent instance where things might have turned out differently with one minor roster change.
“If I played for the Phillies in Game 5, the Phillies would have won the World Series,” Hass said. “Replace Rhys Hoskins with me, and the Phillies would have won. I would have struck out four times just like he did, but I wouldn’t have made those errors. So the Phillies would have won Game 5 and gone on to win the World Series. You heard it here first.”
It’s a statement Hass makes with tongue planted firmly in cheek. And as his coaches and teammates can attest, Hass is known for his sense of humor as much as he is for his love of being a part of a team.
“Ryan doesn’t take himself too seriously,” said Pennridge boys’ basketball coach Dean Behrens. “He’s very down to earth, very funny. He’s always positive, always gets the guys going.”
“Ryan is so genuine and so likeable,” said Rams’ baseball coach Craig Whitten. “This is the funniest kid I’ve ever coached in 12 years of coaching. He looks like a goofball and says goofy things, he likes to have a good time. But he’s really intelligent. He’s a great student and he’s a smart player.”
Above all else, Hass just loves to play. Whether it’s on the court or on the diamond, Hass understands his role on the team, will do whatever is asked of him to help his team be successful, and wants to have fun with his teammates while doing so.
“He's been the perfect role player for us,” Behrens said. “Ryan comes off the bench as our sixth or seventh man, he knows he’s going to get minutes each night, and you wouldn’t be able to tell in practice the next day if he played 32 minutes or 2 minutes. He always brings good energy, good body language, he’s everything you want to see in a player.
“Ryan is a 3-point specialist for us, and when he gets his feet set, gets himself squared up, he can really shoot the basketball and he’s got confidence to do that. He’s also the guy who’s always after loose balls, hustling on defense. I never have to worry about his effort. He’s the type of kid who’s not your superstar, but he’s a glue guy, a guy that does everything for the team.”
Hass isn’t just the “glue” on the court, he quite literally kept the team together during a rough stretch last winter when Covid and injuries severely depleted the Pennridge boys’ basketball team roster.
“Last year was a tough year for us,” Behrens said. “We had a couple weeks with 11 guys total between JV and varsity. There were a couple nights where Ryan played eight quarters. He played the full JV game and then the full varsity game.
“We would joke with Ryan, ‘If you could, you’d play 12 quarters – four in the freshman game, four JV, four varsity. He just loves to play.”
Playing two full games for a stretch did present a couple challenges to the then-junior.
"I was always pretty tired the next day at practice,” Hass said. “Coach was like, ‘You can run forever, you’ll never get tired.’ But I did that for a couple weeks. My legs were shot a lot of times, but it was fun. The other thing was that I went from kind of being the man in the JV game and scoring 20 points, then knowing your role in the varsity game to help your team win. It was tough. But if I had to do it over, I would.”
Now in his final season on the hardwood for the Rams, Hass and his classmates have the added responsibility of being the leaders for the younger players. It’s a role he’s embraced.
The seniors’ leadership has been a big factor in a season that is exceeding expectations. Pennridge entered the season looking to pick up 12 wins to give Behrens his 300th victory at the helm. The Rams entered this week with 13 wins and a guaranteed winning season. They will finish no worse than .500 in the ultra-competitive Colonial Division, and the team is eyeing a run in the District playoffs and has hopes of a berth in the PIAA 6A State tournament.
“It’s really important to set a good example of what to do and how to act for the younger kids,” Hass said. “I got that a lot as a sophomore with the seniors who showed me how to play Pennridge basketball and what it was all about. It takes 18 guys to win.
“I’m a person who values winning. I want to win no matter what. I knew going into the season that I wasn’t going to have a huge role. I’m one of the biggest believers in roles on a team. A lot of guys make teams unsuccessful because people don’t know their roles: ‘I want to do this … I want to start.’ While that might be what you want, what you want isn’t always what’s best to help the team. If you want to do what’s best for your team, you have to accept your role. I’ve always been pretty good at knowing my role and accepting it.”
Take that attitude and add an unquestioned work ethic and constant desire to improve, and it makes Hass an ideal representative for his teams, his school, and his community.
“He’s a great example for our program. Ryan is everything we want our program to be about,” Behrens said. “The way he behaves in the community, in school, and on the court and fields, he’s a great example of a student-athlete.”
The only downside of an extended postseason basketball run would be that it would overlap with the spring baseball season. He’ll be the everyday first baseman for a Rams’ team looking to bounce back from last year’s disappointing 8-11 record. So the pressure may be on to get back into baseball shape as quickly as possible.
“The challenge for him is just getting acclimated back into baseball, because we hit the ground running this spring,” Whitten said. “Depending on how long the basketball season goes, he’s not going to have a lot of time to prepare, but I think he’s the kind of kid that loves that kind of pressure. He would never use that as an excuse, it would just make him more determined to get back into shape as quickly as possible.”
“That’s one of the biggest challenges I have, going back-to-back,” Hass said. “If you make it to playoffs in basketball, you’re jumping right into baseball season and that’s one of those sports you cannot jump right into. I haven’t thrown a baseball since early October. I hope we can make a nice long run in istricts and make states, but the first day after basketball is over, I’m getting right there in the batting cage. You cannot take any time off if you want to be successful in two sports at the varsity level.”
While he’s remaining focused on basketball and trying not to look too far ahead, Hass admits he’s excited for baseball season. After spending his time on JV playing the corner outfield and infield positions, he quickly settled in at first base on varsity last year. He’ll come into the spring with experience, the knowledge that it will be his last season in Pennridge athletics, and the desire to go out on a positive note.
Oh, and the proper glove. He’ll bring that into the season as well.
“My dad bought me a first baseman’s glove a year or two before last,” Hass said. “When I started playing first base, ‘Here it is.’
“It turned out to be a softball catcher’s mitt that looked like a first baseman’s mitt. So I pull up to practice with my softball catcher’s mitt. I was still making some picks with it, until one of the assistant coaches gave me a real first baseman’s glove.”
And if you think he’s bringing anything but a positive attitude and lot of chatter into the spring season, you’d be wrong.
“Baseball’s the best for that,” Hass said. “In basketball, you’re always running. I love the slowness and thinking aspect of baseball, and you can interact with the other team. I love to have fun with the team and talk it up.”
“I genuinely wish we could mic him up for a game,” Whitten said. “When he’s on first base, Hass just won’t shut up, he just talks to the first baseman or the runner the whole time, says the weirdest stuff. He’s a guy who just really loves playing the game. He goes out and plays and has fun with his friends and his teammates.
“Hass is such a dude. He’d fit right in on the ‘93 Phillies. He knows when to be competitive and he knows when to say the funniest joke you’ve ever heard in your life. He’s such a goofball, but if we’re down one run in the bottom of the seventh, he’s one of the three hitters I’d want coming up to bat for us.”
And just as the baseball season will mark his last athletic season for Pennridge, Hass is acutely aware that he’s got limited time left to walk the halls of the high school as well. Hass – who carries a 4.0 GPA – is still taking honors level classes, and he is a member of the National Honor Society and the Chess Club as well as a Link Crew Ambassador. He’s also the reigning Homecoming King.
“I’ve definitely been realizing it since the second semester just started, ‘This is your last however-many weeks of school,’” Hass said. “I’ll walk into practice, maybe there’s one day I don’t want to practice but then I think, I’m only going to be able to practice a few more times in my life. It’s been an eye-opener for me.”
Hass is narrowing down his list of college choices. Wherever he ends up, he plans on pursuing a major in engineering. And while he would like to continue playing on a club team in college, he will be leaving behind varsity athletics once he graduates from Pennridge.
“I figured that out halfway through high school,” Hass said. “I know that I could probably play basketball and baseball at some Division 3 school, and I did think about it, but it was never really a dream to play at that level. I really knew once I graduated high school and got to college, my focus was going to be on studying.”
And once Hass hangs up the green and white for the last time, Pennridge will lose far more than just a perimeter shooter or an all-league infielder.
“When Ryan graduates, we’re going to lose a kid that led by being a great example in the classroom as well as in the field and on the court,” Behrens said. “I’ll miss how down to earth he is, how polite and respectful he is in the classroom. He’s an absolute pleasure to coach. He’s cognizant of his teammates, how important they all are, how everyone needs to pitch in to make the team successful. He’s always great with helping the younger guys out.”
While Hass hopes his teammates will always associate his name with being a hard worker and good teammate, he hopes to be remembered as a guy who went out trying his hardest to win at the sports he loved playing.
“I don’t know what my life would be like coming home from school and not being out there having fun with the guys,” he said. “That’s what I do it for, I do it to win and to have fun. I’m not trying to play baseball or basketball in college, I didn’t make that a goal when I was younger, I try to have the most fun possible. With the intensity of games and the seriousness of practice, you get so locked in. You need guys who are going to make you laugh, make you smile, raise your team spirit. I just try to be a funny guy, I love just having fun.”