The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

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The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Pathfinder

The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Pathfinder

Athletes of West: Episode 6

 

Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zq-u92tFZY

Senior Raj Jaladi: Welcome to another episode of Athletes of West. Today we are joined by varsity basketball player, junior Tyler Kuehl. Tyler, how did your basketball journey start in the first place? 

Junior Tyler Kuehl: My basketball journey started really with my dad. He played basketball at Illinois Wesleyan, a small school in Illinois. And from a young age, I started playing, I fell in love with it. I’ve always battled with my brother in the driveway. It was really just me being competitive. It was something I really liked to do. It was something I could go to whenever I was bored. 

Jaladi: When did you start playing? 

Kuehl: When I started playing on a team, it was probably when I was 5 or 6. 

Jaladi: What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?

Kuehl: Alright, my biggest accomplishment, I’d say, I’ve been working on my skills. This past summer, I made a pretty highly competitive Amateur Athletic Union team. I think that was the goal from early on — you always played in these little tournaments [in] St. Louis, but you never got to travel because you weren’t at that level yet. Getting there this summer, I got to travel to Kansas City, [Mo.], Indiana, Nashville, [Tenn.], [at] these tournaments playing all different competitions. Getting exposure from coaches, I’d say that’s probably my biggest accomplishment. There’s different AAU circuits. So there’s an Adidas, there’s prep hoops. You go and there’s like a schedule, and you have to go to each tournament, and play different teams from all over the country.   

Jaladi: And so then talk to me about your high school basketball career so far. What’s that been like? 

Kuehl: I’d say, don’t think I was on the teams I should have been on, but that made me work harder. And starting this year, I was on varsity, and [on] my first game, I had 17 points. 

Jaladi: Talk to me about how high school basketball has helped your game, [and] how Parkway West has helped your game.  

Kuehl: Coach [John] Wright [and] Coach Chris Sartorius, they know what they’re doing. They’ve played at all levels in basketball and they know what to run. They want defensive hard work, so it’s a lot of running, a lot of footwork [and] aggressiveness. He wants us to outwork every single team we play, and I think that’s a big deal for our coaching staff to have, and I think it makes us more successful. 

Jaladi: Is it a big time commitment for you to play high school basketball while also training? 

Kuehl: Basketball in general is a big time commitment because in the season you’re practicing every single day for two hours after school when you have homework and all that and then a game, and then you don’t get home till 9:30 [p.m.] But also in the off season, I’d say that’s also a big time commitment because you’re either working on your game or you’re playing in tournaments all over the country. That’s all you’re doing, you’re practicing, working to [get ] stronger, getting better or you’re playing. It takes away from family trips. It’s also a big-time thing. 

Jaladi: And so you’re talking about all this time put in. So I’m curious: how are your grades? How’s your academics?

Tyler Kuehl: I think I can balance basketball with my school pretty well, as I’m in very tough classes: AP, honors, all that. And I think I’ve done a great job balancing that. I have higher than a 4.0 GPA. And I think many people aren’t as great [at] balancing that as I am. 

Jaladi: So, how are you able to balance both academics and basketball?

Kuehl: It’s not fun. You don’t want to do it. But at a point, it’s a mindset that you just have to get it done. You can’t rest; you can rest later. 

Jaladi: So what is some advice you would give people who also want to balance academics with time commitments in physical activities?

Kuehl: If you can handle it, then go for it. Nothing’s going to be easy when balancing it, so you’re gonna have to work hard every minute. If you can’t handle it, like there’s no big deal of just dropping your sport. I think academics come first. 

Jaladi: Who’s your role model? 

Kuehl: I’d say both my dad and my brother. My brother, because I’ve always looked up to him through the years. He’s two years older than me, [and] that’s where I wanna be. Like, I can see his growth, and I can like, that can motivate me more to grow. Also my dad. He’s been my coach throughout the years. He wants the best out of me, and he’s worked with me at getting better. I think I can look up to that as well.

Jaladi: [What was] a difficult moment for you in high school basketball and how have you been able to navigate that challenge? 

Kuehl: I think making the team that didn’t believe that I fit on. I was on JV as a sophomore,   seeing my club teammates on varsity. That makes me want to work harder. I can’t feel sorry for myself, I’ve got to work. 

Jaladi: I played tennis. It wasn’t really a team sport. So, I’m curious, what do you like about being in a team sport? And how does that help you, maybe outside of just the game of basketball as well?

Kuehl: So most of the guys I’m playing with right now, I’ve known for a lot of my life and I think really it just makes us better. We can work together. It’s team chemistry. I think that is a very important asset to a team and the fact that we do have that and all the guys have known each other since like before middle school and through elementary school. I think that’s a big deal for a team and how they work together. 

Jaladi: So what is some advice you would give people who also want to balance academics with time commitments in physical activities? 

Kuehl: If you can handle it, then go for it. Nothing’s going to be easy when balancing it, so you’re gonna have to work hard every minute. If you can’t handle it, like there’s no big deal of just dropping your sport. I think academics come first. 

Jaladi: It’s a good answer. Who is your greatest support on your team?

Kuehl: [Senior] Brian Wright. I played with him in the summer. We’ve worked together this summer, and I feel like he obviously wants me to do well, and I obviously want him to do well. And then also I’d say coach Mario Patton, he’s always trying to get me better. He always wants me to succeed, and I think that’s a big deal for a coach. 

Jaladi: So let me lay down the situation for you, right? You’re down by two, and you’re wide open on the wing. They pass it to you. So, that’s a pressure moment. We all face those situations where the team’s relying on you to make that game-winning shot. Some of us can be Damien Lillard and some of us are not. So how do you feel during those moments? What do you do? How do you prepare for that?

Kuehl: I think for the most part, it’s confidence. If you’re going into that shot and not think that you’re gonna make it, it’s obviously not gonna go in. And if you believe, then I think that’s the only way you can succeed, and I’ve been in that situation before.

Jaladi: I bet there’s not that much time left after sports and school, but what do you do for extracurricular activities? 

Kuehl: Spend time with my family as much as I can. After that, there is not really not much left.

Jaladi: So what is your goal in terms of career and sports? 

Kuehl: I want to play basketball in college, but I obviously know that’s not always going to be there. There’s a chance that doesn’t happen. So, I’m going to keep my academics with me, and I’m going to try to go into finance and become some sort of financial advisor. 

Jaladi: Do you have any places in mind that you would like to go play for?  

Kuehl: Oh, it would be cool if I did play, I’d like to play at Illinois Wesleyan. It’s where my brother plays, and it’s where my dad played, and it’s where my sister plays volleybal,l and it’s where my mom went. My uncle’s an all-American there, and my aunt went there. 

Jaladi: How are you feeling for the rest of the season?

Kuehl: Obviously I’m confident. I think our team, even though we might not be the most skilled, we can outwork any other team.

Jaladi: Ty, thank you so much for joining me today. Good luck with basketball. 

Kuehl: Appreciate it. Now it’s your turn. So what does tennis mean to you?

Jaladi: Thank you for listening to another episode of Athletes of West. Stay tuned for more in the future.

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Raj Jaladi, Newsletter Editor/Data Analyst
Pronouns: he/him Grade: 12 Years on staff: 4 What is your favorite piece of literature? "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." Who is your hero? Ghandi. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Mac & cheese.
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