Growing up in Carson, Ryan Lauderdale was a three-sport athlete in football, track and field, and basketball. He especially loved football and went on to play wide receiver at San Jose State University. Little did he know that in the years to come, he’d become one of the best trainers of hockey players in the South Bay.
Before his journey into the hockey world, Ryan worked at Velocity Sports Performance in Redondo Beach and became a Nike master trainer. When he left the sports world for a chunk of time and worked at Equinox, Ryan came to a realization: “I understood how much I missed being around sports and training athletes. I couldn’t stay away from it any longer.”
In a conversation with a client who was a hockey coach, he talked about the Los Angeles Jr. Kings and the potential of training teenage athletes who down the road could make it to the next level. That’s when he met NHL agent Pat Brisson, whose son Brendan was on the team. He began training Brendan soon after that meeting.
To make sure he was focusing on the right type of training program, Ryan went to as many games as possible and started understanding the nuances of the game better. He realized what he needed to do to get players to that next level.
“In the beginning, it wasn’t easy. It was one of those things where you question your decision,” Ryan says. “I was deciding to become a football guy in a hockey world. I constantly had to prove myself, but once I started to get results, things changed.”
As the founder of Rypen Fitness in El Segundo, Ryan has a mantra: Develop. Evolve. Thrive. That way of thinking has never been truer than with his training of Brendan.
When Ryan began training Brendan at 14 years old, he knew it was a game changer. He had to prove that the hard work he’d put in would help Brendan improve in all aspects of the game. During training, Ryan focused heavily on improving Brendan’s lateral power, along with his foot and ankle stability. Because of his age, Ryan also made sure to create a weight training program to build muscle.
“Since Ryan began training me, I’ve never had a major injury. That makes a huge difference and was something that a lot of my teammates noticed,” Brendan says. “They were always asking about Ryan and really respect him.”
Brendan said he noticed something different about Ryan right away. He made training sessions fun and was completely invested in what needed to be accomplished. While the two may not have been thinking about the NHL five years ago, things started to take shape a few years ago when Brendan took more control of his training, nutrition and recovery.
In 45 games with the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League, the country’s top junior league, he had 59 points. He was second in the USHL in points last season and eighth with 24 goals.
Knowing all the time and energy they had spent together over the last five years, Brendan’s family made sure Ryan was with them the night of the 2020 NHL draft. Brendan’s dream came true on October 9 when he was drafted in the first round—29th overall—by the Vegas Golden Knights, based in Las Vegas. It was especially exciting for Brendan since he grew up in Manhattan Beach and will get to play close to home.
“Playing in the NHL had always been a dream of mine, and when I found out, I couldn’t believe it,” Brendan says. “I had a smile on my face the entire night.”
Brendan Brisson will play for the University of Michigan in the 2020-2021 hockey season.
Vegas Golden Knights’ general manager Kelly McCrimmon told the Las Vegas Sun newspaper that the team is excited about Brendan’s trajectory and is confident that he has a high ceiling. One of the biggest joys for both Ryan and Brendon is knowing the impact this kind of success could have on the South Bay sports community. Brendan was only one of two Americans chosen in the first round of this year’s draft.
“Everything is connected,” Ryan says. “If we can bring attention to the sport due to a local athlete like Brendan finding success, that would be great.”
While Ryan will no longer be next to him every step of the way, Brendan still plans to train with him over the summers. Brendan looks at Ryan like a big brother, and they have brought out the best in each other.
“His success is my success,” Ryan says. “I believe in hockey and want it to grow in the South Bay and throughout the country. Who would have guessed that two South Bay kids would be the ones representing California hockey in the 2020 draft?”