Max Ryan’s love for skating began quite by accident, says his grandfather and CRC Nurse Bob Ryan, BS, RN. “We were looking for a summer day camp for Max and found one at a local ice rink.” It was only for a week, but the 8-year-old was hooked. “Max asked us for ice skates and lessons for his next birthday.” When Max was in 4th grade, he asked if he could be home-schooled so he could get better ice time at the rink. “We knew we were in trouble,” says Bob with a grin.
Today, at 16, Max and his partner Anna Nicklas of Ann Arbor, have Olympic ice dancing in their sights. The couple has been together for two years. In their first year, they competed in U.S. Nationals at the Intermediate level, and this year have moved up to Novice level. Following that are Junior and Senior levels. Competitions begin in early spring and end with U.S. Nationals in January. Bob says they have competed all over the country from Baltimore to Chicago to Salt Lake City.
Bob and his wife, Cheryl, who are the legal guardians of their grandson, came out of retirement in order to help Max prepare for his Olympic goals. Bob has been working at CRC in his role as Education and Infection Control Manager since October 2016. “God has given us physical health and blessed us as a family to help him realize his dreams,” says Bob.
Each day, Bob drives Max from their home in Jackson to the Ann Arbor Ice Cube where Max spends the day skating and training. He does his homework at the rink. In addition to ice dancing, his training also includes freestyle skating, ballroom dance, and ballet. Max and Anna’s coaches are “Olympic-level,” says Bob, and have coached national champions and Olympic teams.
Bob says that ice dancers usually mature in their mid-20s, so Max and Anna are looking toward the 2026 Olympics, although 2022 could be a possibility. “There are no guarantees,” says Bob, “but if the stars align…Everything has to come together.”
Max also has goals of coaching and is currently an apprentice coach for 5 to 8-year-olds. Eventually, he would like to pursue kinesiology and medicine. But the Olympic podium is his ultimate goal. “You have to have that drive, desire, and commitment inside,” says Bob about his grandson. “You can foster and encourage it, but you can’t create it. We give him the environment to let him dream. It is a blessing to be able to do it.”