Ryan Richardson is a sports fan.
That is putting it mildly. Richardson is a sports fanatic.
“We honestly didn’t know there was anything special about his knowledge,” his mother Karen Richardson said. “Once he got to high school, people started telling us.”
It’s a love that started at a young age.
“Since I grew, it became more and more interesting,” Ryan Richardson said. “Getting into it, it’s fun keeping an eye on all the stats.”
During lunch at Ralston High School, Richardson, a huge Iowa Hawkeyes fan, began discussing sports with Principal Steve Schrad and other teachers.
“It started when he was a sophomore and I was in my first year here,” Schrad said. “He wears that Hawkeye gear everywhere.“
In September, after years of arguing over who was the better college football team — Iowa or Nebraska — Schrad and Richardson started “Sports Rant,” their own remote sports talk show that aired every Friday during homeroom in the morning.
“That was kind of a whim,” Schrad said. “Kevin Janssen runs all that for student council. He would do a few things so we would run that during homeroom.”
After months of recorded shows, Schrad had the idea to do a live show in the cafeteria during lunch, but with a couple of surprise guests — Gary Sharp and Damon Benning of “Sharp and Benning in the Morning” on 1620 The Zone.
Schrad told Richardson that they would be doing segments during each of Ralston High School’s lunch periods. After the first lunch period, he surprised Richardson with lunch from Ragazzi’s Pizza and with his guests, Sharp and Benning.
Richardson’s parents were in on the secret and it was a hard one to keep.
“The last 24 hours were horribly hard,” Karen Richardson said.
For the next two lunch periods, Richardson, Sharp and Benning discussed everything from baseball, college football and even the NFL’s Deflate-gate scandal.
“I asked them to talk to him for maybe 20 minutes,” Schrad said. “That 20 minutes turned into about an hour.”
Richardson was happy with how the shows went.
“It was great,” he said. “Everyone listened very well. It was a successful show. I think all the teachers and students that watch it will remember it.”
Richardson’s parents are appreciative of what the school has done for their son.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Karen Richardson said. “I was just bouncing off the walls.”
His father, Mark Richardson, agreed.
“It’s humbling that they go out of their way to do this for Ryan,” he said.
Schrad said he wanted to do something for Richardson that could show off his special knowledge.
“He was fun to get to talking to,” he said. “I realized he had a pretty special talent there. He surprised all of us with that.”
Richardson, who will be graduating on Sunday, will be attending Metropolitan Community College for web design, but doesn’t want to give up his sports talk.
“My back-up plan is to keep doing stuff like this.”
Schrad knows that even thought “Sports Rant” is over, the two will keep in contact.
“We’ll stay in touch,” Schrad said. “It’ll be interesting how we stay in touch after graduation.”