Now, the 28-year old Buckhead resident and wife of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is now making a contribution of a different sort for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream.
Ryan joined the Dream last week after being hired as a sponsorship sales consultant.
She said she is excited about her new role with the Dream and the chance to get back into basketball.
“It’s a huge thrill for me to have this opportunity to work for the Dream,” Ryan said. “Obviously, I’ve played basketball in the past and coming into a position where I can get back into the game that I love so much is a dream come true.”
The position became available for Ryan after meeting with Dream CEO Ashley Preisinger a month ago.
“We were put in touch by a mutual friend and at our first meeting with each other, neither of us really knew what to expect or what would come of it,” Ryan said. “With my having a basketball background and Ashley being CEO of the Dream, it was a good match and I talked with her and we really hit it off. I have a ton of respect for her and what she’s done. I could help out and contribute to the Dream, so I feel fortunate for the opportunity.”
Ryan started work immediately after being hired and said she is enjoying the experience.
“So far, so good,” Ryan said. “I’ve been loving it, obviously. Matt and I have been able to go to quite a few games together and the team’s doing great and we’re fortunate to watch one of the best teams in the WNBA. Not to mention the leadership of the Dream; the owners Kelly [Loeffler] and Mary [Brock] are really great and working with Ashley has been great and I’m really fortunate to have three great people to learn from.”
In her new position, Ryan helps with the acquisition of new corporate sponsorships as well as maintenance of current ones.
Ryan said her basketball background will certainly come in handy in her job with the Dream.
“Obviously, just having that passion for the game, understanding the commitments that the girls on the team and what dedication and the commitments it takes for them,” Ryan said. “I respect what they do, day in and day out, and the talent that’s on the floor. So, not many people recognize the skill level of the WNBA game and I think if I can help people understand that as well, that would be great.”
It was that basketball pedigree that was certainly a plus for Preisinger in hiring Ryan.
“Sarah has played women’s basketball at an elite level,” Preisinger said. “She has a true passion for the game and knowledge of everything that goes with it. She could do many things at this stage of her life and we are thrilled to have her as part of her team.”
Ryan made her biggest mark in basketball at Boston College, where she played under her maiden name of Sarah Marshall for four years — three as a starter — from 2003 to ’07.
As a point guard, she dished out 543 career assists — placing her second on Boston College’s career list — as she helped lead the Eagles to two Sweet 16 appearances in the NCAA tournament.
She was an All-ACC Academic Women’s Basketball Team selection her final two seasons and was a Big East Academic All-Star her first two years.
“That was a great four years,” Ryan said. “It feels like a long time ago, now. I was lucky to be on some really talented teams and play along some really fine players. I had a blast playing basketball at BC. I made some long-term friendships with teammates and coaches and it went by too fast — it was a blink of an eye. I would go back to do it again in a heartbeat.”
Before that, Ryan was a standout at McAuley High School in Portland, Maine, where she was the school’s all-time leading scorer and led her team to two state titles.
Since moving to Atlanta two years ago, Ryan has worked as an administrative assistant and has volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club before joining the Dream.
She has also lived the life of an NFL spouse after marrying Matt Ryan two years ago — having met her future husband at Boston College, where he was the star quarterback on the football team.
However, Ryan said the life of an NFL star’s spouse isn’t necessarily glamorous.
“Life is pretty normal in our house,” Ryan said. “Obviously, during the fall, our Sundays are a little bit different. But, other than that, the day-to-day is pretty low key and obviously, with Matt’s job, there are so many circumstances that come along the way. But, it’s been great and we try to keep things pretty simple in our lives. Nothing too crazy about being married to Matt, which is a good thing.”