Tonawanda News — Learning to lead can be a long process. An athlete usually must understand his or her own strengths and weaknesses before he or she can motivate and inspire others.
But North Tonawanda volleyball player Ryan Fritz is different. He was born to help others. It's why he is always smiling on the court, why he's always working on his game and why he plans on following in his brother's footsteps after graduation by joining the Marines.
Fritz was voted as team captain this year, in only his junior season, because he's earned the respect of his teammates. He started as a sophomore and has blossomed into the unquestioned leader of the Lumberjacks. He credits Josh Fritz, his brother, for always setting a good example.
"My brother was always the way that I am — kind of a 'smart-alec' and always joking around," Fritz said. "But when it comes to serious moments, I can be serious."
In 2010, the Fritz family lost a close friend who was killed in Afghanistan. Josh Fritz — a member of the 2009 state championship football team — joined the Marines to honor his friend.
Fritz said that he's always looked up to his brother and believes their path in life will always be connected.
"I intend on going in the Marines after high school depending on where my high school stuff takes me," Fritz said. "But most likely I'll follow in his footsteps. He's been my role model in life."
Fritz's infectious smile is one of the first things people notice when watching the Jacks on the volleyball court. He loves the game and it shows. The court is his sanctuary — where he can lose himself and forget about everything else for a little while.
When Fritz is playing, he said he lives in that moment. He's not thinking about homework or what he's doing after the game, he's just focused on hitting the ball and making the right plays.