February 2, 2012

Boyle Ready to Start Talking for ESPN

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Boston Cannons attackman Ryan Boyle, a three-time member of Team USA and a former four-time Princeton All-American attackman, has a passion for broadcasting and joins ESPN's lineup of game analysts this spring.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

Those who are familiar with Ryan Boyle's unique knowledge of the game shouldn't be surprised he has decided to pursue college lacrosse broadcasting this spring. This is, after all, the guy who was once the subject of a LaxMagazine.com article titled "Are You Smarter Than Ryan Boyle?" in which he analyzed every player and position group on the 2010 U.S. men's national team.

He knows what he's talking about. And now he'll get paid to do it.

Boyle, the former four-time Princeton All-American and three-time Team USA attackman, is the newest member of ESPN's men's college lacrosse analyst lineup. His game schedule hasn't been released yet, but he said he will most likely work in a three-person booth to start.

Not having a National Lacrosse League job for the first time in seven seasons served as a catalyst for Boyle -- the CEO of lacrosse education company, Trilogy -- to look for a weekend job in the spring, he told LaxMagazine.com in a recent interview from his office in New York City. He was released twice in one month this preseason, by the Philadelphia Wings and Colorado Mammoth, and said he would "go crazy" on the weekends if he didn't have something to keep him active. So he got an assist from friend, Trilogy co-worker and Team USA member Matt Striebel, who had done some broadcasting work in the past. Striebel put Boyle in touch with the correct contacts at ESPN.

Boyle joins men's analysts Paul Carcaterra (All-American at Syracuse and a member of 1995 National Championship team), Mark Dixon (former Johns Hopkins midfielder), Ryan Flanagan (All-American defenseman at UNC), Quint Kessenich (four-time All-American at Johns Hopkins), Jamie Munro (All-American at Brown and former Denver head coach) and Matt Ward (former Virginia attackman and 2006 Tewaaraton winner). Courtney Martinez Connor, the former UMBC coach, will handle analysis of women's games.

"I got released by the Philadelphia Wings and that enabled me to get into some mental headspace of what do I want to do here?" said Boyle, who is also an attackman for Major League Lacrosse's Boston Cannons in the summer. "You think about what you want to do after playing, but it's a whole different thing making the decision versus the decision being made for you. I started thinking, and the broadcasting thing came in my head. Whether it was an independent thought or whether people planted some seeds over the past couple years is up for debate. I called Striebs ... He thought that it would be a nice fit for me and reached out to them to connect the dots. The rest, they say, is history."

History is just the type of study Boyle has a fondness for, or at least listening to history unfold in the sporting arena. He said his interest in broadcasting stems from listening to Baltimore Orioles games on the radio as a child, and that love has continued as media has evolved on television and the Internet.

"Part of the reason I enjoy watching sports on TV, a huge component of it is the announcers," he said. "I could listen to Al Michaels narrate someone walking down the street. For me, there is a sincere enjoyment hearing someone explain a game or a process."

And explaining it himself.

Here is Boyle's take on reigning Tewaaraton Award winner Steele Stanwick:

"I think he's brilliant. He has incredible skills, has impeccable stick work. In some of those games toward the end of the season – some of those passes that he executes with their two-man games and the big, little picks – those are incredibly precise passes. He makes it look effortless. I don't think that people understand how accurate those are and the windows that he's hitting in order to execute those passes.

"And everyone looks to him for leadership. When you come through and deliver in the clutch, as he did last year, it only then fuels that trust that your teammates have in you. He was able to clearly raise everyone else's play.

"The other thing about him and college lacrosse is the possessions are so incredibly valuable. The guy just doesn't make a mistake. I think it was late in the championship game, the ball hit his stick and rolled out of bounds. The game was already wrapped up and I think the announcer said, 'That's the first mistake Steele Stanwick had made in a month.' I remember it distinctly, back to the interest in broadcasting. It was so poignant because it was correct. The guy had literally not made a mistake in a month. When you have that high level decision-making and the ball is in your stick for a large chunk of the game, ultimately your team is going to get quality scoring opportunities. That's what he does. He can score when necessary, but it seems as though he would prefer to set everyone else up, which makes your offense that much more dangerous."

"I could listen to Al Michaels narrate someone walking down the street."

-- New ESPN lacrosse analyst Ryan Boyle

Does he sound like a natural fit as an analyst?

"I've dedicated my life to lacrosse education and I really see this as being true to that mission," Boyle said. "It's just a different stage and a different platform. Ultimately I hope to bring part of that to the broadcast, and be able to explain some of the nuances of the sport, some of the strategies of the sport to viewers. There were a lot of factors that made it a natural fit."

And he's gotten some friendly advice, too. He met with NBC Sports' Jimmy Roberts, a regular contributor to NBC's golf, tennis and Olympic coverage who once worked at ESPN.

It's just talking, Roberts said.

"Just remember, that once the game gets going, you're just talking," Boyle recalled Roberts saying.

Good point, Boyle thought.

"I have the proverbial training wheels on," Boyle said about starting in a three-person booth, "but given my knowledge of the game, they were willing to move forward with the training wheels. You can't screw it up that much."

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