Ryan Tolar thought his football career was over.
The 2006 Pasco High School graduate had played four seasons for the University of Washington football team on the offensive line.
He tried to see how things might work out in the National Football League.
“After Washington, I worked out for a couple of teams,” Tolar said. “I went to Tampa Bay, and they sent me back home quickly. I didn’t want to keep pushing (the dream of playing football) out.”
So Tolar, 24, got ready to move on to the next phase of his life: working in the insurance industry.
“I started working at Farmers Insurance,” Tolar said. “I tried to enlist in the Marines, and that didn’t work out. But (former Husky teammate) Jordan Reffett got me started in the business.”
Still, he wasn’t ready to let football go completely.
“I started missing football and I talked to (Tri-Cities Fever) coach (Adam Shackleford),” said Tolar. “I met a couple of the guys around town, and they’re really nice guys. I’m not one of those guys who wants to play and play. But I missed the game. And talking to these guys, they kept egging me on to play.”
Shackleford was excited.
“Ryan called me,” said Shackleford. “I tried to get him back in August, not realizing he was a Pasco kid. I knew he was at the UW. But I knew he was also going through the (NFL) lockout process.”
So a few weeks ago, when Tolar – at 6-feet-4, 320 pounds -- was available, Shackleford signed him to the Fever.
“When I moved here to town, I didn’t know he lived here,” Shackleford said. “And it doesn’t happen very often that you’ve got a guy in town who can snap a football.”
He should get a chance to play this Friday in the Fever’s game at Wyoming. And he’s experienced at all line positions.
Shackleford likes what he has seen in Tolar so far.
“He’s got a great attitude,” Shackleford said. “He’s a good character guy. He’s got good technique. You know, I’ve always liked guys in the past who I’ve recruited from Washington. But there’s always been an arrogance associated from there too, like they’re too good for this level of football. But Ryan doesn’t act like that.”
No, in fact, Tolar is just thankful for the opportunity.
“Just getting back into it has been great,” Tolar said. “I’ve been out of the game for a year. This is a great opportunity to keep playing.”
But Tolar is also keeping an eye on his other job too.
“I’ve got a full-time job, and (insurance) is what I want to do,” Tolar said. “To be able to come out here, with the team working around my schedule, is great. I have to go to the University of Farmers for a week soon, and they’re going to let me go. Meanwhile, (the Fever) is able to work me into the system.”
After practice, Tolar will go with the team to lunch dressed in his slacks, dress shirt and tie, eat and then rush back to the office for the rest of the day.
Shackleford said Tolar is worth working things out for.
“It’s a tough balance,” Shackleford said. “But it’s been like ‘You let us know what you need, and we’ll let you know what we need.’ ”
For Tolar, playing football and living and working back here is a dream come true.
“I love the Tri-Cities,” Tolar said. “This is my home.”