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Coach Ryan Arist uses his love of God and coaching to guide and support student athletes

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Posted at 5:00 AM, May 31, 2024

BEL AIR, Md. — Ask the student wrestlers at Patterson Mill Middle-High School what they think about their coach, Ryan Arist, and there's no shortage of glowing responses.

"He’s a very encouraging coach. He likes everyone to wrestle together so no one feels left out," said Christian Joglar, an 11th grade student.

"I feel like he’s more of a friend than a coach," said Jonathan Fletcher, a 10th grade student.

"He’s a really good communicator so it’s always safe to talk to him about stuff," said Sarah Alkhatib, a 10th grade student.

That sense of community and friendship is what Arist aims to do each year with his students, whether its in the classroom at the middle school or coaching the high school wrestling and lacrosse teams.

"We just have a great time, the culture of our programs are just positive," he said. "It’s not just 3-5 p.m. everyday, these kids mean a lot to me."

His faith also means a lot to him and he combines his love of God and coaching through a group called Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).

"It just makes things a little easier when I’m dealing with life or dealing with losses or dealing with adversity, that we have faith to come back on," Arist said.

The group meets weekly, led by the kids, and they discuss how they can use their faith to better themselves as students, athletes, and people. Fletcher is a member of FCA.

"I think faith is really important for wrestling because it can help you put trust you may not have in yourself, into God, and I think that takes a lot of pressure off yourself as a wrestler because you know someone else is helping you," he said.

The message Arist seeks to send to his athletes: success is not measured in just wins, losses and championships. It's about putting forth your best self and lifting up those around you.

"Life is not easy all the time, between losses and injuries and just life. Being able to have some conversation about life and having something solid to come back on is just as important."