On February 15, 2020, a promising ninth-grade boy named Ryan Subroski went into our last qualifying tournament of the season trying to improve his career-high of 286 from the previous week. Ryan did just that by shooting a 294, which was good enough for a 5-way tie for #1 in the state heading into the PA State Tournament. A week later, Ryan suffered a heart attack and would have died if not for the quick actions of his mother to perform CPR to save his life. For the next year, while the rest of the world struggled with a pandemic, Ryan fought hard to regain his ability to walk, talk, and be a teenage boy again. Ryan spent the next 127 days at Children’s Hospital, as doctors tried to find the cause of his heart attack. During this time, Ryan was unable to eat and received nutrition through an IV. Doctors discovered that Ryan had an infection in his intestines, which had also become twisted. Several procedures were done to clean and remove portions of his intestines over the next several weeks. From February 25 through May 10, he was fighting infections, fevers, inflammation, GI issues, anxiety, depression, delirium, and more. Through it all, Ryan proved he was a fighter, and his archery team continued to shower him with love and support. Around Day 100, Ryan added to his physical therapy routine. While he was building up strength to stand on his own again, he also started getting into archery shape. Ryan knew he wanted to be back to the team as soon as he was able to, and he wanted to pick right back up where he left off. Pictures of Ryan working with a string bow as part of his therapy were shared with the team by his mother via a Facebook group dedicated to his journey. His team and friends were thankful he was alive and healing, yet he was focused on coming back as the best teammate he could be. Fast forward to a year later: After over 160 days in the hospital and 41 procedures, Ryan came back for his first tournament and shot a 284 for first place! #RyanStrong
After all that Ryan has gone through, he continues to work hard as a member of our archery team and family. His battle and courage inspires our archers to do their best and never take things for granted. His strength and determination is recognized by coaches and archers from other Western PA NASP schools. They continue to stay updated on Ryan’s progress, as he’s not out of the woods yet. While preparing for our virtual PA State Tournament, one of the team captains spoke to me of Ryan. He made it clear that, as captain, he only wanted one outcome: We had to do whatever it took for Ryan to shoot. Thankfully, Ryan was able to muster his inner strength and lead our team with a 289 that day!
— Clay Stewart – NASP® Coach/Teacher
Theodore Roosevelt, once said, “Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength.” Ryan’s life changed forever in February of 2020. With each setback I would ask myself, “How much more can this kid take?” But, Ryan never lost hope. With each passing day, I began to find motivation in Ryan’s story. When I was having a tough day or didn’t feel well, I found myself thinking, “Wonder how Ryan feels?” If he could continue to fight through the obstacles he was facing, surely I can get through a tough day at work. When times are tough, many of us think of Ryan and realize that if we continue to fight that we can overcome all obstacles and reach our goals.
— Brandon Ambrose – School Administration
While Ryan was in the hospital for 127 days, he had to overcome many medical hurdles. He had to have four abdominal surgeries, and a tracheostomy along with multiple other procedures totaling forty-one. A large motivating factor for Ryan getting out of the hospital was for him to get back to shooting archery with his teammates and younger brother. Ryan was one of the top shooters in the state before he began his medical journey and he was determined to get back to that. Ryan considers his archery team to be family and he is determined to help them do the best that they can. Ryan still has a long medical journey in front of him and he plans on continuing his archery journey as well.
— Jessica Subroski – Mother
Even while recovering from health problems, Ryan continues to come to archery practice and puts in maximum effort. He continues to shoot trophy winning scores and surpasses all expectations. Through this, he inspires and motivates others to improve themselves and their team.
— Rachael Lamb – Classmate
As Ryan’s archery coach, news hit us hard back in February 2020. Our team was concerned for one of our own. When talking with Ryan now, he understands that he has gone through a major life challenge. He has set his goal on overcoming it, along with overcoming the obstacles that has come with what it has done to his archery abilities. He is not willing to let either one beat him or prevent him from reaching his goals! Ryan is focused on being the best person that he can be, as well as doing his best as an archer. This attitude will help him achieve that goal by rising to the occasion and being a champion in life.
— Russ Sabo – Coach