Wake up at 5:30 a.m., put on Navy-issued clothing. Work out at 6 a.m., shower, put on Naval uniform, breakfast at 7 a.m.. Five classes, which include leadership and seamanship classes, lunch from 7:50 to 2:50 p.m. Put Navy-issued clothing back on, basketball practice from 3 to 6. Shower, dinner, homework. Hopefully, in bed by midnight.
This was the typical weekday for Tyler Riemersma at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Riemersma is currently a junior basketball player at Augustana, but his path to the university was very different from most. He experienced an intense freshman year as a student-athlete at the Naval Academy.
The summer of Riemersma’s junior year at Jefferson High School, he was contacted by a coach at the Naval Academy which would light the spark of his college career. He was invited to take an official visit shortly after and took the trip from Bloomington, Minnesota, to Annapolis, Maryland.
“I liked the campus and city of Annapolis a lot, as well as the basketball program and the coaching staff,” Riemersma said. “I also thought it was a very unique opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”
He made the decision that the Naval Academy was the school he wanted to attend.
The intense schedule started the summer before his freshman, or “plebe,” year. Basic training lasted 50 days and involved a lot of physical activity and adjustment to military life. This was only the beginning of the challenge that the school year would bring.
Once the school year had commenced, Riemersma was not as happy as he thought he would be at the Naval Academy.
“The school culture was very dull and involved little school spirit outside of Army and Air Force weeks,” Riemersma said. “This is usually because everyone is very busy and has little time for lots of other things.”
Basketball was Riemersma’s escape from his chaotic schedule at the Naval Academy.
“I enjoyed all of my teammates and it allowed for a break from the everyday military life,” Riemersma said. “The road games were also very fun because we were able to wear normal clothes, eat good food and not have to worry about military obligations.”
However, the home games were a disappointment for Riemersma.
“We usually only had around 750 people at our games,” Riemersma said. Alumni Hall, the home of the Naval Academy’s basketball team, seats 5,710 people.
The one exception was when the Army came to town. Not a seat was open in the most anticipated match up every year. In 2018, the Army Academy beat the Naval Academy 64-62. Riemersma was lucky enough to see nine minutes of playing time, scoring 2 points and grabbing 2 rebounds.
Riemersma was able to achieve his dreams of playing Division I basketball and he did so without a doubt that he could have continued playing at that level. He played in 28 games over the season, averaging 10.3 minutes, 2.1 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. In that small amount of playing time, Riemersma was able to grab 34 offensive rebounds, placing him as fourth on the team in that category.
Near the end of the basketball season, Riemersma decided he wanted to transfer.
“I knew that a career in the military was not for me and that I wanted to pursue other goals in life,” Riemersma said. “I talked a lot with my parents and coaches about leaving and decided it was best.”
Riemersma originally didn’t think that he would end up at Augustana, but with convincing from his Augustana teammate and sophomore guard, Jameson Bryan, he decided to check the university out.
“I talked with the coaching staff and came on a visit and really enjoyed it,” Riemersma said. “The things that sold it for me were the guys on the team, the coaching staff and the winning tradition.”
He decided that Augustana University was the place for him.
“Augie is different from Navy because I have much more freedom,” Riemersma said. “I am able to go wherever I want and do almost anything without having someone always watching over me. At the Navy, I was only allowed to leave base Saturdays from noon to midnight, so there was little I could do.”
Riemersma had a successful sophomore year at Augustana, playing in 15 games and averaging 27.7 minutes, 13.7 points and 8.5 rebounds before suffering a minor injury that kept him out for the rest of the season.
So far this season, he has played in 22 games and averaged 25.3 minutes, 13 points and 10.4 rebounds.
“I am planning on staying here,” Riemersma said. “I also enjoy basketball and all of the friendships I’ve made and wouldn’t want to leave those.”
Riemersma will remain at Augustana, but he will not take the lessons he learned at the Naval Academy for granted.
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