When Ryan Nash goes home for Christmas, the Miami diver will face his toughest critics: his family.
The senior finance major comes from a clan of four other collegiate divers. Three of his uncles – Richard, Frank and Joe Nash – dove at Yale, Tennessee and Iowa, respectively, while his older brother, Michael, competed at Miami.
“I’ll be showing them videos of my dives from this year, and they’ll be saying, ‘Ah, I could do better,’” Ryan said. “It’s tough to hear from a family member trying to coach you. It’s not always what you want to hear.”
Ryan’s father, Tom, didn’t dive in college but threw both his kids into the sport before they started elementary school.
Growing up in Kenilworth, Ill., Ryan and his short, rail-thin frame excelled in the water.
He attended Chicago’s Loyola Academy, where he served as team captain, earned Chicago Catholic League Diver of the Year during his senior year and helped the school win back-to-back state titles. His family often watched Michael and him from the bleachers.
That success wasn’t enough for Ryan. He heaped pressure on himself and wasn’t happy when the collegiate scholarship offers weren’t filling his mailbox.
“I sort of felt like I had to dive in college,” Nash said. “Having my brother diving [at Miami] was also something that I saw him doing and knew it was something I really wanted to do. My parents, too – they really wanted me to dive in college.”
He initially hated the idea of going to Miami, but an Oxford campus tour changed his mind.
“I joke it was my dad’s plan for me and my brother to dive [at Miami],” Nash said.
Once he started college, Ryan felt he had something to prove. He walked on to the RedHawks’ team and tried to outdo his brother at every opportunity. Sometimes, this competitiveness led to arguments between the two.
Now, as he’s been for the past two years, Ryan’s alone at Miami, forging his own legacy. Last season, he set his team’s season-high score in his signature event, the three-meter springboard, and totaled 11 top-five individual finishes at meets featuring that category.
His success carried over into his senior campaign. He finished sixth overall at the Miami Invitational this weekend.
But when he’s sitting at the Christmas dinner table, his performance will be analyzed.
Usually, the evaluation shifts to a never-ending debate about who’s the family’s best diver.
Ryan, Michael and Frank have legitimate claims to that title, though all the Nash boys’ names litter the record books at Loyola Academy.
“Frank is probably the best,” Ryan said. “He was an All-American [at Tennessee] and just missed out on the USA Olympic team in 1976. He is also right up in the top-five all-time at my high school, too.”
Reflecting on his career, Ryan doesn’t regret anything.
“The greatest experience I’ve ever been a part of is being able to dive in college,” Ryan said.
His final season ends in March, but that might not kill his family’s diving dynasty.
“I definitely want [my kids] to at least try or have some experience with diving,” Nash says, “but not so much that they’re going to be forced to be divers.”