By Megan Vincent
Born into a basketball family, senior Rylee Jensen relishes the sport she has grown to love by playing for the Desert Hills girls basketball team.
“It’s been in my family, my dad and my grandpa played,” Jensen said. “My grandpa trained me every summer, always pushing me to be better. He would take me to the gym, and I would have to do different dribbling patterns through cones he’d set up.”
She chuckles, fondly recalling how she would have to shoot 10 free throws in a row before being allowed to end their training for the day.
“He was always a stickler about my throws, but he helped me learn how to enter my ‘zone’ when playing,” Jensen said.
She explained how she learned to block out all outside distractions in order achieve a perfect free throw under pressure.
“It was intense, but it was worth it,” she said.
The eldest of five children, Jensen enjoys spending quality time with her family, as well as encouraging her younger siblings to play the sport of basketball.
“My parents and siblings are pretty much my best friends,” Jensen said, “and I want to make them proud. They’re my biggest support system in everything I do.”
Her family comes to all her games to cheer her on. She smiles as she talks about her grandfather.
“My grandpa used to come to all my games. He was my biggest supporter besides my parents,” Jensen said “I guess that’s the hardest part about moving. Now he calls me after every game to ask how I did, and last week, he was able to surprise me and actually come to the game. It really meant a lot to have him there.”
Even though Jensen and her family moved from West Jordan during the summer of 2014, she still has the support she needs to succeed through the encouragement and helpfulness of her parents.
“My mom has really helped support me through everything I do,” Jensen said. “She helps me work out time for basketball and schooling.”
Jensen is constantly challenging herself both on the court and in her academics. She takes several AP classes alongside a few college courses, and she is continually striving for top grades.
Proudly maintaining a 3.9 GPA, Jensen is always working hard between juggling school and hobbies. She explained how she earns her high grades and balances schooling with her extracurricular activities.
“I know that (school) is always going to be there, and so it’s always been No. 1, with basketball as a close second,” Jensen said. “I just have to be disciplined, and I have to keep pushing myself to succeed.”
Even though she is able to balance school work with basketball, Jensen has had her fair share of struggles with playing.
“I’ve had a few too many injuries,” Jensen said, as she rubbed her left knee. “I had a stress fracture in my left leg and then I had to sit half the season my junior year with another stress fracture in my right leg.”
Although she has had a tough time with her various injuries, Jensen has never allowed them to hold her back from playing to her best ability.
“Being injured is the worst, but it allows you to stretch your talents through different ways,” Jensen explained. “I was able to help be supportive of my teammates and to encourage them from the sidelines. That was a big help with being injured, and it kept me positive.”
Teammate Aubrey Anderson compliments Rylee and her leadership talents.
“Ry is easily the most caring person in basketball,” Anderson said. “When you think of a team leader, that’s exactly what she is. Rylee is always willing to put her wants aside for the girls on the team.”
When asked about her plans for the future, Jensen answers right away, with a grin.
“I want to get involved with the high school wherever I go to school and help the girls there by becoming an assistant coach,” Jensen said. “I want to share the love of the game I have with the younger girls.”
Desert Hills High senior Megan Vincent wrote this story as part of the Preps Utah student journalism program, powered by Bank of American Fork, which will award two of our published student journalists college scholarships at the end of the school year.