When Midland-Dow boys’ lacrosse coach Joe Stadelmaier talks about Ryan Stadelmaier, he can’t help getting a little emotional.
That’s perfectly understandable, considering that he knows his son will be shipping out for boot camp in a few short weeks – and that Ryan has totally rewritten the recordbook of the lacrosse program his father spearheaded several years ago.
“It’s been really challenging for me (to coach Ryan), because I’m harder on him than I am on anyone else,” Joe Stadelmaier admitted. “He broke two records this year, and I didn’t even mention it. And then, when he broke a third one, I decided, ‘OK, we need to recognize that (publicly).’
“ … It’s difficult. I’m always a father to him. I’m never just his coach,” Joe added. “A lot of times I’ll ask one of the other coaches to talk to him. I’ll tell them what I want them to say, and they’ll go talk to him.”
In less than three full seasons, Ryan Stadelmaier, a senior attacker, has set the standard for production in the Midland-Dow program. During this season, he surpassed Ryan Sisitki’s previous record of 131 career goals and currently has 146, he surpassed Jared Zahn’s previous record of 106 career assists and currently has 157, and he surpassed Brett Brillhart’s previous record of 205 career points and currently is sitting on 303 points heading into Friday’s Division 1 regional semifinal against either Petoskey or Saginaw Heritage.
Ryan also holds the MHSAA record for most single-game assists, having doled out 16 helpers in a May 21, 2021 game against Linden.
Yet, for all of his individual success, Ryan said the most enjoyable part of playing lacrosse is being with his teammates.
“I’d say just the relationships with my friends, my teammates, especially coming over from hockey (is what I enjoy the most),” said Ryan, who was also a co-captain of Dow High’s state championship hockey team this past winter.
“There are four or five guys from the hockey team on this team, so that’s really fun to play with them in two seasons, and it’s also fun to play with Midland High kids as well,” he added. “It’s something new, and it’s fun.”
As for his father stopping a game earlier this season to recognize Ryan’s third program record, he added, “Yeah, they celebrate it and everything. But at the end of the day, I can’t really do it without my teammates. After I broke the record, I just thanked them, because I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Although he’s been playing lacrosse from a young age, Ryan admitted that hockey was his first love.
“Initially, I wanted to play professional hockey. Hockey was my dream, but then I realized how hard it is to play in the NHL, so I stuck with lacrosse,” he noted with a smile.
Despite the pressure of coaching a son who is always in the spotlight, Joe Stadelmaier replied in the affirmative when asked if he has enjoyed the opportunity.
“Oh, yeah. Yeah, I have. It’s been really enjoyable,” Joe said. “He’s a pleasure to watch. He’s gifted. He’s got good hands. He’s got good size.
“He takes after his mother. He’s got her genetics,” he added with a chuckle.
Joe noted that his son is not only naturally gifted, but he is also an avid and willing student of the game who enjoys competing at a high level.
“He’s been around the game so long, and we watch film together. I’m constantly coaching him on and off the field,” Joe said. “We work out during the summer a lot and play fall ball with a travel team from Detroit, and we go out East. There’s always competition.”
Ryan said that playing elite-level travel lacrosse has helped him grow as a player.
“I compete at a really high level. During summer ball, I play travel out East, and it’s just super fun to compete with really talented players out there,” he noted.
Ryan Stadelmaier will continue his lacrosse career at the next level when he hits the field for the U.S. Air Force Academy, beginning with Basic Cadet Training next month. As his father admitted, turning the reins over to a new coach will be an odd feeling.
“I went with him for his visit to the academy, and I watched (him play lacrosse) from the stands. I was in the stands for the first time that I can remember at a lacrosse game, and I’m like, ‘I’m not sure I’m going to like this,’” Joe said with a grin.
“ … It is going to be difficult to have to sit and watch him. I’m not sure how much playing time he’s going to get as a freshman, but we’re excited,” he added. “He’s got a great career path ahead of him.”
And that career will begin not long after Ryan’s prep career ends – less than a month later, in fact.
“I leave in 25 days, so it’s coming pretty fast. I’m excited but also a little nervous, too. It’ll definitely be real in a couple of weeks, but I’m super pumped to have the new experience and meet new people,” said Ryan, who hopes to become a fighter pilot.
“ … I’m probably most excited to have a new experience. The past four years have been the same every year – hockey in the winter and then lacrosse and school. It’s going to be fun to have something new to do, especially with all of the military stuff that’s going to happen,” he added. “I’m super excited about that. The one thing I’m nervous is about is just balancing sports and education and everything.”
Joe Stadelmaier said he is proud of his son not only for his on-field heroics but also for going on to serve his country.
“I get goosebumps every time I hear the national anthem. I just get chocked up,” he said, adding with a hitch in his voice, “I’m getting choked up right now, just talking about it.”