Ryan Nugent is one of the most well-rounded students at Wallkill Valley Regional High School.
For starters, Nugent is best known as a star linebacker on the Rangers football team. A walking double-digit tackle machine in just about every game he plays in, Nugent was an unfortunate arm injury from likely being a back-to back First Team All-Herald selection on the gridiron.
On the basketball court, Nugent is the ultimate glue guy that holds everything together for the Rangers, as he usually cleans up on the glass and is a rock solid presence in the lineup. Wallkill’s basketball program has wonmore than 50 games over the past three seasons, and Nugent has been on the floor for that turnaround as well.
And, oh by the way, Nugent has a sparkling 4.2 GPA.
He was selected to the National and French Honors Societies and is also a member of Future Business Leaders of American and Peer Council.
These various accomplishments make Nugent a worthy selection as Wallkill Valley’s 2020 Pass It Along Scholar athlete. Nugent — who will play football on the college level next year — has narrowed his next stop on his journey to King’s College and St. John Fisher college.
So how does one of the Silver & Black’s prized pupils handle all of those responsibilities?
“It’s almost like this system I have down pat,” says Nugent, a 5-foot-10-inch, 230 pound athlete who was an intimidating force on the gridiron. “Obviously, my school work comes first, and sometimes I was even late to practice finishing some stuff up."
To change the athletic fortunes of a school, it requires a core of athletes to fully buy into a new way of doing things. In less than four months, Nugent, who will leave Wallkill Valley a much different place than he left it, looked back on his role in making it happen.
“Things are a lot different now than they were during my freshman year at Wallkill Valley,” Nugent said. “I got to play a little bit of varsity as a freshman in football and we went 1-9. From that point on, I wanted to be part of the culture change myself, and took on a leadership role.”
And what a change that was.
Nugent’s sophomore year brought about the return of former Rangers assistant coach Bobby Leach back onto the Wallkill sidelines as its new head coach. And by the next fall, Nugent was a member of a 9-2 conference championship winning team while making the all-area team.
"Coach Leach came in, and I wanted to run through a wall for him," Nugent said. "I'm so lucky I got to play for him."
For one of the great culture changers for Wallkill Valley's school culture, Nugent's final act is the state basketball tournament, which launches tonight.
"We played Pope John, Sparta, Watchung, all schools much bigger than us to get ready for this," Nugent said. "Now, we make a run with schools of our own kind."