Ryder Garnsey Redwoods LC

How Ryder Garnsey Draws Inspiration from Notre Dame, Mikey Powell, and Youtube

By Jerome Taylor

Jul 6, 2023

YouTube's effects on society range from great to grim. But, for Ryder Garnsey, it's been a catalyst, kindling the spark in his imagination. 

Before his highlights made him a regular on SportsCenter Top Ten, Garnsey was captivated by the highlights he was watching on YouTube. 

“I get great nostalgia thinking about sitting on my parents desktop watching those videos when I was younger,” Garnsey reminisced. “You would just google ‘2009 NCAA Lacrosse hype video’... anyone like my age, if they really like lacrosse, they'll have watched a lot of the same videos that I have.”

Indeed, many likely have, but the extraordinary goals Garnsey has scored throughout his career point to something unique sparked in his psyche by those videos.

A blend of inspirations on Garnsey’s game

After only three games, Garnsey's already scored the second most goals he ever has in a season, with 14  (1st in the PLL). And he’s five goals away from matching his career high. This impressive surge in production largely comes from Garnsey taking over the left wing at attack full-time after his teammate Matt Kavanagh was traded last year

Redwoods LC general manager and head coach Nat St. Laurent made the move with Garnsey's potential in mind. “As hard as it was to move away from Kavanagh, it just opens up that side of the field for Ryder to be the main event over there,” St. Laurent said this offseason.

Garnsey’s spectacular scoring prowess this year, including an Opening Weekend game with a season’s worth of highlights, is fed by inspirations from the past. One player, in particular, had him captivated: Mikey Powell.

"Growing up, watching guys like Mikey Powell. I think that is probably the first time I can be like, ‘Oh my God, I want to do something like that,’" he said. 

And because Garnsey’s physical tools don't allow him to get wherever he wants on the field, he sees his Powell-inspired creative scoring style as necessary.

Adding to his unique scoring approach, Garnsey’s path to his goals is less planned than the league’s other prolific scorers. 

“I'm sort of waiting for the defenseman to play his cards a little bit and then sort of counter it,” Garnsey said. “I can't run by someone and just get my hands free and score. I have to be reactive rather than dictating what's going on on the field. I think that that's where the unpredictability comes from.”

Nonetheless, Garnsey points out that any flair accompanying his goals is incidental. Proof of this comes from another source of inspiration in high school: Watching Lyle Thompson dominate college lacrosse from 2012 to 2015. And he’s been trying to fit some of Thompson’s patented moves into his bag ever since. 

“If somebody is doing something that I can add to my game, I'd love to try to see if I'm any good at that in the backyard,” Garnsey said. “[Thomspon] scored pretty regularly backhanded… Seeing that happen over and over again at the highest level in college, it's like, okay, maybe this is a viable option.” 

Besides drawing inspiration from legends, Garnsey learns from players at all levels.

“I think you can [incorporate moves] from little kids who are doing things on accident, to college guys who I see practice five days a week, to the guys at the top of the game, like the guys that are playing in the World Championship,” he noted.

How Garnsey’s coaching experience enhanced his play

Among the "college guys" Garnsey refers to are players like Jake Taylor, Eric Dobson, Pat, and Chris Kavanagh from this year’s national champion Notre Dame, where Garnsey serves as an assistant coach. He believes it would be a disservice to himself if he didn’t try to pick up things from the Kavanaghs after watching them daily. 

Garnsey soaked up game from the players and coaching staff alike during his time in South Bend. Mentioning he could’ve picked things up by osmosis just by sitting in the film room with Notre Dame’s head coach Kevin Corrigan and staff. 

And it’s not just intangible things that have soaked through the Garnsey game, but there have also been on-field results.  

“I think [my off-ball movement] is probably the thing that I've been more aware of since I've been coaching,” Garnsey said. “Timing of cuts, figuring out what the defense is trying to do, and playing off of that. That doesn't happen without really good guys on the Redwoods, both with the ball on their stick, but then also guys who are setting great picks off-ball like Wes Berg.”

So far, his off-ball movement has led to 6 of his 14 goals this year coming off of assists.

And he’s also been trying to pick his spots better when he takes on defenders off the dodge. Against the Whipsnakes, he was involved in six of the ‘Woods’ first seven goals as they tried to claw back into the game. 

“Do we need a little bit of a pick me up, and can I provide that? If the answer is no, then I'm not going to the goal,” Garnsey said. “But if I think that I can, then that's obviously something that I'm going to try to do.  And I think that I've done a better job at that this year than in years past.”

Meanwhile, outside of lacrosse, Garnsey derives inspiration from other sports that have recently concluded their playoffs. From innovative goal scorers in hockey, like Trevor Zegras, to the spacing and pick-and-roll actions that led the Denver Nuggets to an NBA championship.

“From a spacing perspective, you can learn a lot from basketball,” he said. “I've never been like a massive hoops fan, partially because I was so bad at it… But the more I found similarities between that and lacrosse, the more I like watching it.”

Garnsey on the next generation 

Today, the lacrosse-loving high schoolers and middle schoolers glued to their screens might not have the patience for a "long" ten-minute highlight tape. Still, they are undeniably tuned into Garnsey. 

The enthusiasm he plays with comes through the screen, and that's a lesson he wants his young fans to pick up.

“If they have fun doing some of the things that I do on the field and that's successful for them, great,” Garnsey said. “If I'm going to have any type of influence, it’s play to have fun. That's, that's what I'm doing.”

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