By Erin Sneller
Photo courtesy PAC12 Networks
Oregon State football student-athlete and pre-communication major Ryan Nall was selected as one of three recipients of the Play it Forward Award for December by Oregon Sports Awards. The award is sponsored by Nike and Providence Health Services and recognizes individuals and organizations that help motivate kids to be physically active.
Nall is a native of Sandy, Oregon and graduated from Central Catholic High School in Portland. A running back for the Beavers, he was selected as a leader among OSU football student athletes for community service, including work with the Boys and Girls Club of Corvallis. His volunteer service with children first began in high school when he volunteered for Special Olympics.
“Kids see my jersey and they instantly look up to me because I play football. I just really enjoy that,” Nall said. “I enjoy making kids smile and they make me smile too. I like helping them to have a good experience,” Nall said.
Nall’s interest in communication extends beyond making kids smile. Initially on the fence about what to major in when he came to OSU, Nall said he chose communication after taking Comm 218, Interpersonal Communication taught by Sarah Sheldrick.
“I enjoyed that class so much,” Nall said. “Studying communication was so interesting to me and after taking that class I knew I wanted to continue as a major,” Nall said.
Another favorite course has been Comm 326, Non-verbal Communication. Nall said that course has had applications on and off the football field.
“Now I look at people, I observe them, and I can kind of tell what kind of a day they are having. And when I’m standing face to face against someone on the field, there are different little read keys you can tell about a person, just by how they are standing. I notice that now,” he said.
While he hopes to play football professionally, Nall said his plans are to finish his degree first.
“School is first, football is second. I think there are a lot of open doors with a communication degree, whether I become a sports caster after playing football or do something else, it’s going to help me get there,” Nall said.
The Play it Forward Award Fund supports non-profit organizations that provide access to physical activity and sport opportunities for youth throughout Oregon. Nall was joined for December’s recognition by West Linn High School senior Natalie Byrne, a varsity lacrosse and soccer player, and the Northwest Wheelchair Tennis Association.