GIBBON, Neb. — Rylee Reinertson spent last week playing golf in the American Junior Golf Association Polo Golf championships in West Palm Beach, Fla.
While there, he took in a Miami Heat game because basketball is his other sport.
The Nebraska Golf Association named Reinertson its Junior Golfer of the Year for the second time after he:
» Won a PGA Junior Series event at ArborLinks in Nebraska City.
» Won the men's Fremont Amateur and Michelob Amateur, becoming the youngest winner of both.
» Finished third in the Nebraska's men's match play championship.
» Placed fourth in the PGA Junior national finals in Fort Wayne, Ind.
And so on.
Not surprisingly, the Gibbon senior has a golf club in his hands most of the time, especially during spring and summer, working on all of the aspects of the game. As fall turns into winter, he will pick up a basketball.
“I dream of playing both, but golf and basketball really don't go well together,” Reinertson said.
Especially in college, where both sports demand near year-round focus and Reinertson has chosen golf. He has verbally committed to play at Oklahoma, even though both of his brothers went to Nebraska.
Until then, he will play basketball and golf and he has found enough time in the gym to polish his basketball skills, nearly to the level of his golfing skills.
Last year, Reinertson averaged 24 points and 9.2 rebounds, with other per-game averages of 4.7 3-pointers, 4.7 assists and 4.0 steals.
Basketball may be his inherited sport. His father, Paul, and mother, Carolyn, played basketball at Kearney State College.
“When I was growing up … basketball was No. 1,” said Paul, who is Gibbon's boys basketball and golf coach. “I would go to Kearney State games and watch Tom Kropp and Loren Killion play and they were such great players. … I just loved the fast-paced action that basketball has.”
Rylee likes the fast pace, too.
“Things happen quickly and when we score buckets, Mike Kenton, our P.A. guy, is really cool on the mic,” Rylee said.
Basketball also has more of a team component, and the enjoyment of playing with friends.
“There is something about your whole community getting revved up for Friday night's game. Even coaching today I get antsy for the game on Friday night and the excitement it brings,” Paul said.
On the other hand, golf has individual rewards and individual disappointments.
“In golf, at the end of the day you look in the mirror and either you got it done or you didn't. There is nobody to blame,” Paul said. “You cannot get substituted out if you're not playing well. You just go onto the next hole and move forward.”
Rylee said he takes a similar mental approach to each, whether it's grinding through the mental fatigue of 18 holes of golf or charging up and down the basketball court, changing back and forth between offense and defense.
He said it helps, in both sports, to have patience and not panic.
Given his choice, however, he would rather step to the free-throw line for a 15-foot shot than face down a 5-foot putt. While both can be nerve-wracking, between the golf ball and the hole lies undulations in the green, perhaps a spike mark, or the wind might redirect the ball.
“In Nebraska you may have snowflakes blowing in your face,” he said. “Free throws rely on practice, so it becomes easier the more you shoot them.”
His numbers scream that he has practiced shooting a basketball quite a lot. He's someone every team Gibbon faces will try to stop.
Paul said Rylee's role won't change much because the Buffaloes have most of the same players they had last season.
“He has gotten stronger and jumps better, so we will do a couple other things with him this year that we didn't last season. He is pretty versatile in that he can play the point or the big post, so we will try to move him around in different games,” Paul said.
But when spring comes, Rylee will head to the golf course.
“There is something about hitting a golf shot pure that brings a rush that is hard to match,” Rylee said. “Getting to play at TPC Sawgrass, Torrey Pines and PGA National isn't bad either.”