As a hardcore softball player, water polo was a sport Ryan-Marie Ickes played in the offseason. But by the time she got to high school, she decided to leave the softball diamond for the pool.
“I took the turn to say, you know what? I really enjoy water polo, and it stuck with me,” says Ickes. “I made the change not only because of the sport, but the team.”
The Rosary Academy senior credits her teammates for helping her make the decision to fully commit to water polo. The bond that she and her close-knit team have created during her years as a Royal has left an indelible mark for Ickes.
“Water polo has taught me to be a better person and has taught me to really think about others,” says Ickes. “It’s not just about how can I better myself, but also better my team. I feel like that helps me in the real world with my friends and my family. And I feel that water polo has really changed my perspective of life.”
As one of the senior leaders on the team, Ickes feels a strong sense of responsibility toward making sure the younger Royals are provided with the same family-like atmosphere that she’s experienced. Rosary water polo head coach, Rory Bevins, knows Ickes’ leadership has been crucial for the younger players.
“Ryan is one of the most tenacious players I have ever coached,” says Bevins. “She has a fire in her that makes her intense style of playing water polo really fun to watch. She has stepped up this year as a shooter and a passer for us, and we really rely on her to facilitate our offense. Ryan really has become a great leader for us and is almost like a mom to some of the younger girls. She is always helping people get to practice and making sure our new girls understand the game.”
Outside of water polo, the 18-year-old is a Pilates instructor, working alongside her mother, her biggest role model, whom Ickes considers to be her “rock and best friend.”
After graduation, Ickes has committed to play water polo for Loyola Marymount University where she plans to study management with the goal of becoming an architectural manager.
Her faith plays a large role in her life as a student athlete, so much so that the Yorba Linda resident took an additional year before completing her confirmation so she could thoughtfully consider God’s plan for her life.
“I had to know that he was calling me to be confirmed, to finish my initiation into this church,” says Ickes. “And I feel that was the right path to go, waiting a year, because I was more mature and more knowledgeable, to know that God has chosen the right path for me. That helps me so much in the pool, and I know that he’s always with me.”