Ryan Powell, 'Bull in a China Shop,' Lands in Hall of Fame on Own Laurels


Ryan Powell, nicknamed "Rhino," starred for the 2006 and 2010 U.S. national teams.

The Powell family has produced some of the greatest lacrosse players in the sport’s history.

There's Casey, the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame member and four-time All-American at Syracuse, and Mikey, also a star at Syracuse and two-time Team USA member.

Often overlooked in a family is the middle sibling. In the Powells' case, Ryan, separated by two years from Casey, made sure no one forgot his name — or nickname. 

Labeled “Rhino” from an early age, Ryan Powell lived up to his nickname, developing a reputation as one of the toughest lacrosse players to ever step on the field. He didn’t possess the skillset his brothers did, but his work ethic evened the playing field.

“Nowhere near as gifted as either one of his brothers, but so determined that he figured out — what can I do?” Powell’s former Carthage (N.Y.) High School (N.Y.) Kirk Ventiquattro said. “He was a bull in a China shop. He always had a stick in his hand, always counting his reps, but never having enough.”

Powell forced himself into Syracuse lacrosse lore, and later starred for the 2006 and 2010 U.S. national teams — serving as captain for the gold medal-winning squad eight years ago. His resume speaks to a career of achievement — at the high school, college, professional and international levels.

It was only a matter of time before Ryan Powell joined his brother Casey, who was inducted in 2017, in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He didn’t have to wait long, as he was named as part of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame Class of 2018.

He won’t be overlooked anymore.

“It’s nice to get the nod to be in a group full of awesome people, so I'm excited about that,” he said of his induction. “The big thing that I think about are the people that helped me to get to that level — my parents gave me the opportunity to allow me to get a stick to start playing the game [and] my brothers with the competition they always had with me.”

The presence of two star lacrosse players in the family drove Powell to match, and in some cases, exceed the expectations placed on him. His competitive drive was what made him stand out among his peers, according to Ventiquattro.

“The only thing that separates Ryan from a rhino are the horns,” he said. “Everything else about him is like a rhinoceros. He’s going to will himself to do what he has to do to help the team.”

Ventiquattro was an eyewitness for Powell’s development as a child learning the game of lacrosse. Ryan’s father, Larry, famously sold his shotgun so his sons could afford lacrosse sticks. 

Powell and his two brothers made trips to the Carrier Dome to watch the Gait brothers, and then proceeded to play in the backyard for hours afterward. Ryan always wanted to match his brother, Casey, whatever the competition.

Therefore, after a strong career at Carthage under Ventiquattro, Ryan decided to follow his brother and join Roy Simmons Jr.’s program at Syracuse. He was often known as “Casey’s brother," but it didn’t take long to shake that nickname.

By the start of his senior year, he was 96 points away from breaking Casey’s Syracuse career scoring record of 287. He was well aware of what it would take to top his brother, with whom he played two seasons.

“[Casey] came to visit me and he walked into my apartment and looked on the staircase,” Ryan Powell said. “I had a huge No. 96 on the wall. He’s like, '96? What’s that?’ I go, ‘That’s how many points I need to tie your record.'”

And he did exactly that.

Late in Syracuse’s 1999 national championship win over Princeton, Ryan assisted on an Ethan Mills goal to pull him into a tie with his brother. He rushed off the field with his hands up, knowing he'd achieved his goal. 

After college, Ryan and his brother were part of Major League Lacrosse’s inaugural season in 2001 and continued to play throughout the early 2000s. Ryan and his two brothers each made the 2006 U.S. national team — one that finished with the silver medal in London, Ontario.

“Rhino” was reaching the tail end of his career when he made yet another national team — this time leading Team USA to gold as a captain in 2010.

“I came to tears when Coach [Mike] Pressler called me to tell me I was elected,” Powell said. “That was very emotional for me because I knew that I was a little bit later in my career. It’s one thing to make the team and it’s a whole other thing when you’re selected by the coaching staff and the players to be a team captain.”

Having left a lasting legacy in the game of lacrosse, Powell runs Rhino Lacrosse, which he founded in 2005. He also helps run Powell Lacrosse, a stick company that hopes to continue growing the game. He’s simply a lacrosse lifer.

“It’s very cool that I can still be involved in lacrosse in so many different aspects of it,” Powell said. “It’s my every day. I feel very fortunate that lacrosse is my full-time gig. I love the sport. I love the people that are involved in the game of lacrosse.”

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