Ryan Hall understood a long time ago that success doesn't arrive at the door with the daily mail, conveniently contained in a UPS box, ready to be opened and acquired with the ease of scissors cutting packaging tape. The 2010 Elsie Allen graduate didn't become a top-ranked collegiate wrestler at 133 pounds by sleeping in, snacking on cookies and practicing when the mood suited him.
"Obsessed is a word the lazy use to describe dedication," reads a slogan often seen on T-shirts at wrestling matches.
Hall, 20 and a junior at the University of South Florida, likes that sentence for its directed vigor. Attack life. Don't be a spectator. Watch, and you will watch others pass you by.
Wrestling? He is not obsessed. He is merely in love with the entire experience, the challenge of it all: thinking about it, practicing, preparing and competing. It's as if the sport bathes him in an eternal adrenaline glow.
He only takes two weeks off every year from wrestling.
"This is the kind of competitor he is," said Tony Albini, Hall's wrestling coach at Elsie who now coaches the sport at Piner. "We're at a match in Ukiah. His opponent had him in a headlock. He couldn't get out of it. Most wrestlers would tap out because if you don't, you pass out for lack of oxygen. Ryan didn't tap out. He refuses to quit. He passed out, for only about five seconds, but that represented what kind of person he is."
Truth to tell, and he likes this kind of truth, Hall is far more typical of Elsie Allen than perception would otherwise suggest.
"The perception (of Elsie Allen) from the outside is incorrect," said Alan Petty, the school's athletic director. "We have a low transfer rate. Many of our students return to teach here. And Ryan in so many ways represents the kids we have at the school."
Hall had a 4.3 overall GPA for his four years at Elsie, including a 4.5 his senior year. He is carrying a 3.78 at USF, majoring in math education.
His older sister and brother went to Elsie as well. Kelly went to the University of Florida as a cheerleader on an athletic scholarship and is now pursuing a teaching credential. Kyle, a Cal graduate, has passed the state bar in Florida.