When Dan Ryan left for the UK he took an $80,000 pay cut and had an Australian domestic coaching record of 1-27.
Four years later and he’s now the first man to coach a team to a Super Netball premiership, leading West Coast Fever to their maiden title in 25 years in front of a record crowd at RAC Arena.
Ryan had a tumultuous two years at the Adelaide Thunderbirds, winning his first game in charge before losing the next 27.
He left for the UK to pursue his passion, coaching Northern Ireland and in the England domestic league, before Fever netball boss Sue Gaudion made a shock move and brought Ryan in to replace long-time coach Stacey Marinkovich.
“This is the stuff you dream about, it’s the stuff when you first get into the game as a young kid, these are the moments you feel like sometimes may never come but things that get you out of bed every single day,” Ryan said.
“It just goes to show never give up and always believe in yourself and if you want something bad enough, find a way to make it happen.
“I’m a huge believer that if you’re willing to lean into the hardships and the tough times, they’ll be the moments that make you who you are. The challenging and testing times for me have made me the coach I am.
“I was able to maintain perspective of that experience in Adelaide and I was determined to ensure it was going to be the start of me and not the end of me.
“I took an $80,000 pay cut and moved to the UK for $5000 for a year and lived off savings so I could keep coaching. That’s what it meant to me.
“The door of opportunity opened here at Fever, the club believed in me and when you’ve got people around you that support you and build you up, these things can happen.”
Ryan took over an established Fever side that had played in two unsuccessful grand finals in four years, but had the potential to go to another level.
“We talked openly as a team about what we wanted to achieve and how we were going to get there,” he said.
“We weren’t afraid to say that we wanted to create history and we weren’t afraid to put ourselves in pressure situations and find whether we could rise or fall in those moments.
“Our last two games under the pressure of finals I’ve seen an unbelievable maturity in these players and they’ve been so willing to lean into those uncomfortable moments that it takes to win championships.
“It says a lot about these girls and their willingness and their openness. The way they stood up today, I just can’t believe we played out best netball under the pressure of a grand final in front of 13,000 people and in doing it created history.”