Aiming for a master’s and a championship

Clear and focused, that's how manager Helge Stuckenholz describes Canad

Clear and focused, that's how manager Helge Stuckenholz describes Canadian newcomer Ryan Richmond. He shows these qualities not only on the court, but also in his master's studies. © Christina Pohler

Münster University’s "WWU Baskets" team are currently unbeaten in Germany’s 2nd level basketball league and, as of 8 November, are top of the league. Someone who has played a decisive part in the success of the team with their new coach Björn Harmsen is a new player from Canada, Ryan Richmond, who had played his first professional season in Budapest, Hungary, in 2019/2020. The Corona pandemic then interrupted his career plans, and - after spending some months in his home country of Canada, keeping fit - he moved to the Münster University basketball team this summer. A key aspect in the negotiations surrounding the transfer of the 25-year-old was Richmond’s desire to continue his academic career.

Since mid-October he has been studying hard at the University of Münster for his master’s degree in Social Anthropology. Richmond, point guard in the team, already has a BSc in finance under his belt. "I already knew after I’d got my BSc that at some stage I’d want to do my master’s," he says. "That’s why it was important for me to find a new club somewhere where I could not only successfully play basketball, but also continue my academic education."

The Canadian is the most recent example of a trend that is becoming increasingly noticeable in the WWU Baskets. "This season, we have a record number of students in the squad," reports Helge Stuckenholz, the Baskets’ manager. "Out of twelve players, seven are students. That’s an impressive number, which shows how important it is for ambitious young sportsmen to have a second iron in the fire besides basketball." So it came as no surprise to the manager that, in the case of Ryan Richmond, a trump card he was able to play was the close connection to Münster University.

Manager Stuckenholz was pleasantly surprised by the extent to which Richmond involved himself in the process and looked for a suitable place to study while still based in Canada. "Ryan was exceptionally motivated," he says, "and from the beginning of our very first discussion I saw what a clearly focused young man he was. Two days after he had decided on a subject to study, and knew that he met the requirements, he sent out his application. I’ve never experienced anything like that before." What was helpful was the fact that Richmond was able to send his application documents to Münster University digitally. This, says the University’s Student Admissions Office, is an innovation which makes the process easier especially for international students. Looking at the winter semester, says the Office, this has led to a considerably higher number of applicants - both national and international - for places on master’s degree courses than in previous years.

For the Baskets, Münster University is a trump card in any negotiations. However, Ryan Richmond’s transfer says something more. "It shows me that Ryan knows exactly what he wants and works hard for that. It’s precisely such characters that I’m looking for in the team - so we’re delighted that Ryan has joined us," says Stuckenholz.

The delight is mutual - and anyone listening to the 1.85 metres-tall Canadian feels that. Although Ryan Richmond makes no secret of the fact that Münster is the logical next step in his career, it takes nothing away from his genuine enthusiasm as regards the team spirit in the Baskets. In just over three months, the squad has grown together as one. "My team colleagues, the trainer and Helge made it easy for me to feel at home right from the beginning," says Ryan. What he liked especially was the team-building trip with the team at the beginning of his time in Münster. "We’ve really grown close together and we help each other, both on and off the court. It was different in my first year as a professional in Budapest." Of course, he adds, the outstanding start to the season also fires up the team.

As expected, the Canadian draws a positive balance of his first few months with the Baskets and in Münster, and of his first weeks at Münster University. "I’m really fortunate in that all my courses at the Uni are in the middle of the day, which means that I can combine my training sessions and my studies perfectly. I’m glad that I can use my free time productively," he comments. For Helge Stuckenholz, too, this is a success, a win-win situation for both the player and the club - and he sees the choice of Ryan’s subject for his master’s degree as fitting. "Only 30 people study Social Anthropology here for a master’s degree, and they come from all over the world to do so - that fits in with what Ryan is doing. He is interested in the world around him and has a cosmopolitan outlook. That will help him in his studies - as well as in our team."

Richmond has big plans with his new team. "I believe with all my heart that we can win the championship title this season," he says. And when he says so, he sounds both utterly convinced and highly relaxed at the same time - if that is possible. It’s a combination which reflects his mentality as a basketball player. "He’s a positive guy, full of fun, who gets the team going with his manner. At the same time, he demonstrates what it means to work hard on yourself," says Helge Stuckenholz. Ryan Richmond wants to be one of the leaders in the WWU Baskets team, and the next step for him is his individual development. "I’ve been working very hard on my game for many years now, so I know exactly what I can give my team on the court as a sportsman. But I also want to be a role model for others with my attitude and my behaviour - especially for the younger players." A master’s and a championship: ambitious targets which Ryan Richmond is aiming for with a great deal of conviction.

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