Meet the Berrys

Heather Mangan

Heather Mangan

On his only weekend off during an 11-game season, quarterback Ryan Berry drove five hours to La Crosse, Wis., to cheer on the SDSU cross-country team. He couldn’t think of a better way to spend his bye week than watching his wife, Caitlin, compete.

Sometimes just being a student can be hard enough, but sophomores Ryan and Caitlin Berry have taken the term “busy” to a new level.

The couple juggles rigorous academic schedules while competing in Division-I athletics and maintaining a marriage-and they’re the proud parents of a 1-year-old boy.

“You know, it’s not as bad as it seems,” said Ryan, a pre-med major. “You go one day at a time and get though it.”

The pair married in July 2004, shortly after they graduated from Watertown High School. Six months later, Carson Berry was born.

“He is a little entertainer. He just likes being around people,” Ryan said.

But just because they have a family doesn’t mean they have to give up things they love, like sports.

“It has made me a better mother and wife,” Caitlin (Hiedeman) said.

Before Caitlin became pregnant, Ryan had accepted a football scholarship to SDSU. Caitlin had earned a running scholarship to Augustana, but turned it down to follow her husband.

“Looking back after the fact, I’m so glad I came here,” the pre-dental major said.

It wasn’t long after Carson’s birth that Caitlin began to miss running. After some debate and encouragement from Ryan, she went out for the cross-country team in 2005. Things worked out so well she decided to run track the next spring.

“She could just run, but she likes to run to win more,” Ryan said.

Caitlin’s ability to balance everything has made her a better runner, said Rod DeHaven, SDSU cross-country and distance track coach.

“I think highly of both Caitlin and Ryan for the maturity they have shown over the last couple of years,” he said.

DeHaven said Caitlin is a solid runner who is constantly improving. She usually ran third or fourth for the Jacks.

She is a role model in every sense of the word, said senior teammate Becka Mansheim.

“Caitlin never complains about the situation she is in,” Mansheim said. “She doesn’t say much verbally, but she leads by example. She always is up to do anything for the team. She runs to make the team better.”

Ryan possess that same drive and discipline, said Head Football Coach John Stiegelmeier.

“He is a winner because of the situation,” Stiegelmeier said. “He takes a positive approach and knows he is going to get through stuff. He is a model student athlete.”

Ryan filled in at the number-one quarterback position in 2005 when senior Andy Kardoes was sidelined with injuries. Kardoes said his job is easier because he can count on Ryan.

“He does a pretty good of job of handling everything,” he said.

The Berrys are gifted in the classroom as well. Ryan was named to the 2005 Academic All-Great West Football Conference Team, and they have each earned academic scholarships.

Their lifestyle isn’t easy, but they have it down to an art.

They each take 15 credits per semester and schedule their courses so that they take the tough classes together. They schedule other classes so that one of them can be with Carson at all times. When they are at class together or at practice, friends or hired nursing students will watch Carson for a few hours at a time. Caitlin’s mom also takes Carson two days a week.

During the school year, they don’t have time to work, so they live off of academic and athletic scholarships and grants. Ryan also works in the summertime for extra cash.

Between family, school and athletics, some things like housework fall behind. But they do what they can, and sometimes devote an entire day to cleaning, Ryan said.

The Berrys plan to graduate in December 2008 or May 2009, depending on whether or not Caitlin wants to run track her last year of eligibility. After that, they plan to head to graduate school, and more children are definitely in the future. Caitlin suspects they will have another child when she is in her last year of dental school.

Ryan and Caitlin know they don’t have a normal college lifestyle, and they don’t regret that.

“I wouldn’t do it any other way,” Caitlin said. “We love what we have so much. We wouldn’t trade it for a few years’ fun.”

Some weeks are easy, and some weeks are hard, Ryan said. There are times when it can all be so hard to handle and breakdowns are inevitable. But the two are there for each other.

“We try to keep things in perspective when we think it’s so bad and so hard, but it really isn’t so hard,” he said.

Their parents are a big help, the couple said. They watch Carson on the weekends and take him to home or nearby football games and cross-country meets.

“It wouldn’t work if we didn’t have the support of our families,” Caitlin said. “Both of our families have supported us and encouraged us through everything.”

Sometimes it’s hard for the couple to make time for each other, but they find unconventional ways.

“Our time together isn’t so much dinner and a movie, it’s class and studying,” Ryan said.

Their love is what makes it worthwhile and bearable. And love is the reason why Ryan would drive five hours on his weekend off just to see a 15-minute race.

“We’re each other’s first support system,” Caitlin said. “We are really best friends. We need each other to get through it.”

#1.884003:826867457.jpg:theberrys01.jpg:Ryan and Caitlin Berry go shopping with their 1-year-old son Carson in between practice and homework.: