Jackson Township resident Ryan Konovsky, 9, was selected as the Cleveland Browns Kickoff Kid for a preseason game against the St. Louis Rams on Aug. 8.
Dreams begin on NFL sidelines.
At least, that’s the way it goes for Ryan Konovsky, a 9-year-old with hopes of one day taking the field with his beloved Cleveland Browns. Last month, Ryan had a moment to savor that dream when he was selected as a one of Browns’ Kickoff Kids.
While Ryan, a Jackson resident, is young, his pride and passion for the Browns could easily fill the FirstEnergy Stadium, home to the NFL team.
Ryan is a member of the Cleveland Browns Junior Backer Club and his father, John Konovsky, took him to a Cleveland Browns Training Camp July 28. They entered Ryan's name in a contest hosted by the club. Entrants could win the chance to be Kickoff Kid, interview a Browns player or secure the opportunity to run out on the field with one of the players.
“We got a call and they said that Ryan had won the Kickoff Kid for the Browns versus St. Louis Rams preseason game along with four tickets to go see the game,” Hope Konovsky, Ryan's mother, said.
Ryan, his mom, dad and grandfather all went to the game in Cleveland on Aug. 8, the first game of the preseason. Ryan and his dad stood down next to the field and anxiously waited for the moment that he could run out on the field to grab the football kickoff tee and run it back to the sideline.
“Right after I saw the kickoff return,” Ryan said, “I started to get nervous and then when they told me to go get it, I got really excited.”
His excitement soon turned to anxiety when his feet hit the field and he bent down to get the tee.
“I had some trouble getting the tee out of the ground but it finally came loose and I ran it back and gave to someone on the sideline,” Ryan said. “Then, I got a high five from Chomps the mascot.”
That's not the end of the story. Ryan also got a high five from the head coach, Rob Chudzinski and got to meet the team President Alec Scheiner. Plus, he got to see Jim Brown up close and got Kevin Mack's autograph on a mini football helmet.
“We were all so excited that he won,” Hope said. “Ryan counted down the days until it happened. The day was just as exciting because, along with running on the field to get the tee, John and Ryan got to spend 40 minutes down on the sideline before the kick off.”
Ryan said he told all of his friends and his classmates at school what happened. He hopes to one day play in the NFL on one of his two favorite teams, the Cleveland Browns or the New England Patriots.
Page 2 of 2 - “I want to be a Pro Football Hall of Famer when I grow up and play for the Browns,” Ryan said. “I'd like to play quarter back, running back or wide receiver. And, I want to get MVP every game.”
He plans to play high school and college football before playing in the NFL. Ryan is well on his way and is playing Jackson Youth Football right now all the while watching and wondering who he will cheer for when the Browns play the Patriots later this year.
The family took lots of pictures of the event and Ryan's grandmother made a special photo album for him. It's already become a keepsake for future generations.
“I'm going to keep that photo book so that I can remember the day and I plan to show it to my kids when I get older,” Ryan said.