Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


In memory of Ryan W. Knickmeyer

Ryan W. Knickmeyer


Ryan Knickmeyer came to The Badger Herald in the fall of 2003 as a sports writer, and became associate sports editor the next year. Ryan was slated to take over as sports editor last semester before learning that he had cancer. Despite the diagnosis, Ryan always remained upbeat and continued to serve as men's hockey beat writer for the remainder of last season. Those who had the honor to work with Ryan will always remember his contagious smile and his undying spirit. Ryan W. Knickmeyer, 27, taken from us far too soon …



The smile, so easy it seemed one of life's constants. The cackle, so evil and good-spirited it could make you crazy.

Ryan was bold and happy and so brave in his battle — never tragic. He was a friend, and a good one.

He was obsessed with HDTV and had an odd habit of bringing up random Xbox games at random moments. And he knew a bit more about the Badgers than he should have.

He paid attention out of the side of his mouth and he made you feel stupid when you needed to feel stupid. Undemanding and unrelenting, he made life easier for everyone around him.

But, mainly — to me — he was that comfortable smile and that brilliant cackle. Those are the things I will remember.

— Jake Leonard

Ryan was a hard worker, excellent conversationalist and Chicago Cubs enthusiast. I loved our rants about the Cubs' failures and once-in-a-blue-moon successes. I also loved teasing him about how he could never be a true Cubs fan in that he wasn't a born-and-bred Chicagoan.

Throughout his nearly yearlong struggle with cancer he kept a level of optimism I to this day cannot even imagine bearing. I will always admire him for his courage and attitude throughout his struggle. Ryan's presence was missed the day he left the Herald office but his occasional visits brought an instant burst of excitement among staffers.

My thoughts and prayers remain with his family and friends through this incredibly difficult time. Rest in peace, Ry. We all miss you already.

— Cristina Daglas

How could I ever forget your comments from your secret sports corner? Even when I was a timid little associate editor you always had the compassion and humor to joke with me. It made this intimidating job all the more easier! Even when I was completely stressed out and overworked you always had a 'calm down, it'll be okay' attitude — I can't thank you enough for it. I really believe your humor saved me from a complete breakdown on more than one occasion. And if you didn't have some jest to throw my way, you always told me what English classes to take and definitely the ones to steer clear of. I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't told me which professors were worth never having! You were an incredible asset to this paper and a great person to joke with when deadlines kept creeping closer and midterms always seemed to be around the corner. You've been missed greatly here and we will always think of you. Thank you for your support — I'm taking English 482 next semester and hoping it's a good one.

— Meg Costello

You can't find a better person than Ryan. He never had a harsh word for anyone and would always listen to anything. He was a great man and my deepest sympathy goes out to his family and wife.

When someone passes on, you remember general things about a person — what's he like, his friends, hangouts, things he likes, how he acted toward you, general things. But you also remember specific things. And I remember this specific time when we were debating the merits of a headline I wrote for an ASM meeting ("SSFC plans to rule universe" I believe — it didn't get published as such), and we got to talking about driving around our respective towns in high school. And, now, in college, no one does — it's a thing young people do to feel older, and older people don't like spending money on gas. And we talked about the nice police officers who were those kids in high school that just rode around. That's just the thing that I remember about him today.

— Matt Dolbey

It is perhaps too easy to conflate hyperbole and reality in describing Ryan Knickmeyer. He was, genuinely, one of the kindest, warmest and most remarkable people I have ever been privileged enough to know. He was also — even through the last time I saw him, long after his illness had been diagnosed — one of the most spirited individuals one might ever encounter. There was nothing phony about his laugh, often as it may have been heard, or anything insincere about the ear he would lend anyone in need of a friend — no matter how petty their problems may be by comparison.

I don't know what I will miss the most about Ryan — nor am I sure when I will be able to fully grasp that such a tremendous soul has passed. But I do know that there is one less vacancy in heaven today and, with it, an eternal void left behind on earth.

— Mac VerStandig

I can't count how many nights I've spent in the last year wondering how he could do it. Ryan dealt with more than most of us will ever be able to imagine, but never let his pain show. Instead, he used his time to tell all of us story after story — most of which related to Badger athletics. I'll never forget seeing him flash his trademark grin as he told me about Wisconsin hockey players that I had never previously heard of, or the sound of his voice, giving me heck about something on the page during one of his visits to the office last semester. Ryan just had a way of energizing those around him with his presence. I feel honored to have gotten to know him and to work alongside him.

So, to Ryan — I hope we'll be able to make you proud on the sports page. Save a spot for me up there. Oh, and I'm making the trip across the pond for a Newcastle match sometime — I'll give the lads some heck for you.

— Tom Ziemer


Working with you was an experience I will never forget. What can be a wearing, stressful job just wasn't when you were around. It didn't feel like work most of the time, just talking sports with a friend.

There was never a negative moment. Whether taking part in endless debates with the opinion corner, tearing it up on the softball field, or foolishly trying to talk to Jake and me about soccer, you were always upbeat. When the conversations became more serious, you were still the same guy. Handshakes grew firmer, greetings lasted a few seconds more, but we were still just friends talking sports.

There are more memories than this page will hold, but the most enduring may be the simplest. Cheap burgers at Brats on Monday nights, talking about old music at the end-of-the-semester party, laughing at Bo's latest press conference gems …

It won't be the same without you.

— Michael Robinson

When I think back about Ryan, the thing that sticks out more than anything else in my mind was the unending strength and compassion he possessed. There was never any quit in the man that I knew. Not once through the whole ordeal did I hear a complaint, a want for pity or sense of foreboding. No, what I remember was the man, who though weak from the rigors of chemotherapy, would trek out of his way up the three flights of stairs to the office just to sit in a chair next to the sports desk and check up on how the staff and the paper was doing. At a time when nothing should have been more important than his health and well being, Ryan always seemed more concerned with everybody else. And that's the type of man he was.

I know it's cliché to say words could never describe what he meant to us all, but as I struggle to do his memory justice in the short space I've been given, I can't help but feel as if words cannot truly express the aura he possessed. Though he's been taken from us well before his time, his memory forever remains in our hearts, and the effect he's had on myself, as well as anyone who has known him, will never diminish. Rest in peace Ryan.

— Adam Parks


I don't even know what to say, I'm gonna miss you at the hockey games, hanging out with you and talking about anything under the sun. You are such a genuine, good person who instantly makes people feel better when they're around you. I'm going to miss you.

— AJ Maclean

I've spent the better part of an hour sitting here at my computer, trying to decide just what to write about Ryan. The truth is, there is nothing I can say that can do his memory justice or express what he meant to those who knew him.

Ryan left me with many memories: our traditional Monday bacon cheeseburger dinner at State Street Brats, his game-winning single in a Herald-Cardinal softball game and our late-night chats at the Herald office. He could spend hours talking about Badger sports, especially when it pertained to UW hockey. However, the lasting memory I have of Ryan is and always will be simply the good-natured guy with the ear-to-ear grin who put everyone around him in a good mood, no matter how bad things got for him.

— Joe Ziemer

My fondest memory of Ryan was the first time he expressed interest in joining The Badger Herald sports staff. Way back in 2003, I was sitting at my desk during my first registration issue as sports editor. I get this rambling voicemail from some guy contemplating dental school who wanted to take a stab at sports writing. I returned his call, told him to come to our next meeting and sign up for stories. Ryan quickly became a fixture at our meetings, gabbing it up with the rest of the staff about anything and everything. No one liked to shoot the breeze more than Ryan. Even toward the end, the guy would fight through the pain to smile and chuckle his way through conversation. I like to think he's somewhere right now sipping a brew and spinning another epic yarn.

— Drew Hansen

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