BY DENNIS CHASE
TRAVERSE CITY — Dayna Ryan admits she's "getting used to wearing green."
A former gymnast at the University of Michigan, Ryan will now be cheering for Michigan State after her daughter, Holly, gave a recent verbal commitment to the Spartans gymnastics program.
"I'm getting teased, but we're thrilled," Ryan said. "I couldn't be happier for her. She had her sights set on competing in the Big Ten. She wanted to give it a shot."
Holly Ryan, a senior at Traverse City Central, will be an invited walk-on. She had a similar offer at the University of Michigan. She visited the two schools on consecutive weekends.
"I immediately felt at home there (Michigan State)," Holly said. "It felt right.
"My dream was to (compete) at a Big Ten school because I love the conference and that type of competition."
Holly's decision took her parents, Dayna and Dennis, somewhat by surprise, especially since she had been attending camps at Michigan for several years.
"She would have been the first legacy in the history of the Michigan program," Dennis said. "We just assumed if they offered her something she would go there."
So did Dayna.
"This past summer she finally got the offer (from Michigan) she had been waiting for," she said. "It was very exciting. The very next weekend she went to Michigan State and received a similar offer. She just loved State. She loved the school, the coaches — not that she didn't at Michigan — but she said it felt like home. She felt it was a better fit. They have some great recruits coming in. They're going to be a team to watch in the future."
Holly Ryan, a 3.8 student, competes for Waters Edge Gymnastics. She's a two-time Level 10 state qualifier. She was a regional vault and beam champ in 2011. The beam is her specialty and that's where she could crack the lineup.
"She's always favored the beam," Dayna said. "Michigan State coaches noticed that. They like her skill level and consistency on beam. That's not usually a favorite event for gymnasts."
Ironically, Dayna Ryan had a connection with Michigan State coach Kathie Klages.
"She coached me for one summer here in Traverse City," Dayna said. "I kept in touch with her over the years."
Klages was happy to add Holly Ryan to her incoming class.
"Holly is extremely talented and will add needed depth to our freshman class," Klages said in a release. "She is outstanding on the beam and will vie for a lineup spot immediately. She is a very special recruit as she is the first recruit in which I also coached her mom."
Holly is coached by Beckey Burden-Cuddeback and Chris Cuddeback at Waters Edge.
"Holly's been training for this for so long," Beckey said. "It's been a goal of hers to compete in the Big Ten. Holly didn't really want to consider Michigan Sate last year because she came from this Michigan household. But as soon as she went to camp there, she fell in love with it. She knew that is where she wanted to go.
"She's quite a competitor. She always has her eyes on the prize. She sets goals and sticks to it. Nothing deters her."
"You have to credit her coaches, Beckey and Chris," Danya said. "They've been her only coaches. They've been dedicated to her efforts. They're the ones who have gotten her this far."
Holly Ryan is sitting out this weekend's first Waters Edge team meet in Lansing because of a sore elbow. She expects to be back for the next meet later this month.
In the meantime, she'll be in attendance today to watch her future team, Michigan State, open its season with Western Michigan.