Local Harvard-bound student athlete finalist in Ms. Health and Fitness contest

Ryleigh Patterson is a finalist in the Ms. Health and Fitness contest.
(Arturo Olvera)

Rancho Santa Fe’s Ryleigh Patterson is a quarterfinalist in the Ms. Health and Fitness HERS magazine cover contest. The contest is a Homes for Wounded Warriors fundraiser— paid votes raise funds to build and remodel homes for critically-injured United States military veterans. The winner will land on the cover of Muscle and Fitness HERS magazine and take home a $20,000 prize.

Ryleigh, a 6’1 Harvard-bound volleyball player, describes herself as “really bubbly and outgoing and always smiling.” The R. Roger Rowe School alum recently graduated from Cathedral Catholic High School.

“When it comes to fitness there isn’t a prototype for what you need to look like. If you want to be fit and healthy it’s up to you what you think that looks like because every size is beautiful,” wrote Ryleigh in her contest questionnaire. “I would also recommend to do things for yourself and not for the validation from others. Work out and eat healthy because it makes you feel good not because you have to meet the standards of other people.”

It was Ryleigh’s mom who found the HERS contest on Instagram and thought her athletic daughter would be a perfect fit.

“It seemed like a cool opportunity,” Ryleigh said. “I’ve never put myself out there like that.”

Ryleigh Patterson
(Carmen Wormington)

A well-decorated student-athlete, Ryleigh is a middle blocker who earned a varsity letter for two years in high school and spent four years playing for WAVE Volleyball club. She was named to the 2021 Redondo All-Tournament team, earned first-team CIF honors and led her Cathedral team in kills and blocks last year. Her Dons team won the 2021 and 2022 CIF Open Division Championships as well as the 2022 California Open Division State Championships.

“Growing up my father was a pro athlete so I have always been around sports,” said Ryleigh, who grew up in Germany where her father Bruce played professional basketball.

Watching her dad and older brothers play sports like basketball and rugby, she wanted to be a part of a team. She ran track, played basketball and volleyball but once she hit eighth grade, she turned her focus soley to volleyball. After leaving Rowe she began her high school career at Torrey Pines before transferring to Cathedral Catholic.

Ryleigh has committed to play NCAA Division I volleyball for the Crimson this fall. As a middle blocker, she loves being able to move around the court: “I think I’m a very versatile player, my coach can put me anywhere if needed,” said Ryleigh. She is a solid defender, she blocks, serves and can hit.

With her high school and Wave playing career now over, Ryleigh keeps active by working with a trainer at the gym. She and her friends have also started going on hikes all over the place—a favorite so far is Torrey Pines.

“Participating in any form of fitness makes me feel accomplished. I love working my body out and the feeling I have afterward. I’ve met my best friends through sports and you learn lessons that will last a lifetime,” Ryleigh said in the HERS contest. “Fitness isn’t always perfect, there are many ups and downs and times where I feel unmotivated but constantly reminding myself of my goals keeps me pushing forward.”

Ryleigh has also been a leader off the court. She served as a co-founder of the first Black Student Union at Torrey Pines and was a senior leader of Cathedral Catholic’s Black Student Union this year, promoting awareness and unity during Black History Month and organizing an end-of-the-year cookout for students. She was also the treasurer and foundation chair of the Jack and Jill of America chapter on campus, an organization that helps improve the quality of life for children.

If Ryleigh wins the contest, she plans to use her winnings to help pay for her education at Harvard, where she was one of 722 applicants who received early admittance in December. During a recent weekend at Harvard with fellow incoming students, she loved getting the opportunity to meet peers from all over the world: “I’m really excited to meet all of the different people and to discover myself.”

At Harvard, she plans to study economics and government with hopes to go on to law school.

To vote for Ryleigh in the Ms. Health and Fitness contest, go to The contest is open for voting until June 22.