WHSV Sports Presents 2015: Ryan's Song

Published: Dec. 21, 2015 at 7:54 PM EST
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It's been nearly a year since Ryan McAlister has taken the field as a baseball player. The former County League second baseman now coaches the JV baseball team at Turner Ashby. But he's has also put his focus on a talent off the field, trading in the bat and glove for a guitar.

"I want them to be moved by the song. I want them to say this is me, this is who I am, from their perspective,” McAlister said. “I want them to be like, 'this song was written for them'."

For years, McAlister has played for a team, diving for baseballs for the Bridgewater Reds and the EMU Royals. But these days, the Turner Ashby product plays solo, on his guitar, writing music.

"And that was just something that kind of took my mind off of baseball a little while,” McAlister said. “Baseball is a very stressful sport and music was kind of a getaway for a little bit."

McAlister's love affair with country music began in high school. But it wasn't until after he lost someone he loved that he began writing his own work.

"My granddad was in a band. A country band around here,” McAlister said.

“My granddad passed in my freshman year of college and I'd listen to some of the stuff that he had recorded before.”

It took McAlister a couple more years before realizing he was developing a talent.

“It just kind of hit me where I was just jotting stuff in a notebook in class and I guess that's when I wrote my first country song,” McAlister said. “Just starting off with some lines and after that, after I wrote that song, I wanted to buy a guitar."

A few guitar lessons and countless verses later, people started noticing McAlister's music, including his old college baseball coach, Ben Spotts.

“He knew I was writing music and playing guitar,” McAlister said. “I just remember him saying something at practice. And he'd say, 'McAlister, you can put that in a country song,'”

McAlister has written nearly a hundred songs, but there's one that seems to be a home run with his fans, it's called, "Picture On My Dash".

"Every time that I pull out a guitar, that's the song that they want to hear,” McAlister said. “And that's just one that I just happened to get lucky. I put the right words in the right places."

McAlister can picture himself in Nashville, hoping to get paid to write music. He says it's a thought that's crossed his mind before.

"The music industry is so hard to get into right now. It's a lot harder than pro baseball,” McAlister said. “But if I could write music for a living, that's what I'd like to do. At this moment I'm happy coaching, working a 40 hour work week and being around here."

Here in the Shenandoah Valley, where McAlister has already found plenty to write songs about.