Editor’s note: This story was originally published Oct. 31. Guay is earning his undergraduate degree in biochemistry and chemical biology and still weighing his medical school options.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Pressure? What pressure? Ryley Guay loves pressure.
So much so that the Vanderbilt kicker hopes to deal with far greater stress in the professional world than what he has experienced thus far in the Southeastern Conference.
“Obviously being a kicker, high-pressure scenarios are where you’re supposed to thrive,” Guay said. “I’ve actually been able to grow a huge level of appreciation and interest for emergency medicine. Stuff like trauma, ICU – just being a source of composure in times of high stress and emergency for other people is somewhere where I think I could really strive.
“Especially with kicking I think I have the tools to stay composed in situations like that, too.”
Guay, coming down the homestretch of his college career, is in the midst of balancing his senior season as a Commodore while trying to get into medical school. Between meetings and practice and games he’s using, “any free second” he has to fill out secondary applications and explore options for the next chapter of his life.
Recently he visited Northwestern University, one of the schools he hopes to hear from next month or later this winter as it pertains to his acceptance into medical school. The process is reminiscent as his time as a football recruit coming out of Naperville, Ill.
“Each school is trying to appeal to you in a different way and tell you what makes them unique,” he said. “It is a really cool process.”
Medical studies run in the family for Guay who said both of his parents are physicians. Watching how fulfilling their careers became and how much they loved what they did stood out to Guay at an early age.
Guay came to Vanderbilt in 2016 as a freshman walk-on and has since worked his way into the team’s No. 1 kicker. He’s made 20 of 30 field goals in his career (missing only one of eight tries this season) and is 57-for-57 on extra points.
The senior is 10 points away from finishing inside the top 10 for scoring in Vanderbilt history. All while tackling the demands of chasing a dream career.
“I ended up getting into Vanderbilt and declaring a major in biochemistry – which was a lot at first,” he said. “I’m taking (biochemistry) and (organic chemistry) in the same semester that I’m fighting for a starting spot. Juggling the two was a little challenging, but then you obviously kind of get into the swing of things and next thing you know I’m applying to med schools this (past) summer.
“I took the (Medical College Admission Test) in May and then have been filling out applications. It’s been a super-rewarding experience going into something I have such a high level of interest in. And since it’s something I’m super passionate about that makes it really cool.”
Guay and the Commodores (2-5, 1-3 SEC) will be trying to start the season’s first winning streak when they venture into South Carolina for a 6:30 p.m. CT game Saturday against the Gamecocks (3-5, 2-4 SEC). Two teams fighting to move up the East Division standings while trying to keep postseason hopes alive could make for a game that goes down to the wire.
If that’s the case, Guay will be ready if called on during a crucial late-game scenario. He thrives under the pressure and wants nothing more than to help his teammates in the final few games left in his career.
“Obviously the classes are challenging, but it’s material that I’m super, super interested in,” Guay said. “Yeah, I’ve sacrificed some hours of sleep here and there, but it’s cool because it’s all applicable information. From generation sequencing to different disease treatments here and there to how that goes on on a biochemical level. Just knowing that I’m going to use this type of information in the field that I am so passionate about is something that keeps me going.
“From a football standpoint, I have a passion there, too. I have a bond with my teammates that puts that super high on my priority list as well. Like (Vanderbilt special teams coordinator and tight ends coach Devin Fitzsimmons) always says, making it work, figuring it out, doing what you got to do.”