A common phrase that’s reverberated throughout sports is that hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. It’s something one of a kind when the talent also works hard.
Maryville girls basketball Rylee Vierthaler started off on her basketball journey when she was in third grade but didn’t start picking up a passion for it until she reached the sixth grade. The 5-foot-10-inch freshman forward said she had to travel in order to play on a competitive team.
“I started playing on a team in Kansas City,” Vierthaler said. “I like competing overall, so it's a fun sport to compete in, especially with the team aspect.”
The instant she discovered her passion for the game, she had the opportunity to test her competitive spirit against older opponents. Maryville coach Quentin Albrecht said he remembers watching the sixth grade Vierthaler playing with seventh and eighth-graders.
“I remember her and Anastyn Pettlon both playing as really young kids,” Albrecht said. “I thought that they’ll take their lumps early but playing against older kids would make them better in the long run, and it really has.”
This season, Vierthaler and Pettlon earned starting varsity spots and helped the Spoofhounds to a conference championship and get in position to compete for a district championship. Vierthaler enjoys the success the team has found and enjoys being a Spoofhound.
“It means a lot (to be on the team). It’s very fun to play with such a good team.” Vierthaler said. “For me, I know our coaches have pushed all of us to do so well.”
The team sport aspect of basketball is important to Vierthaler. She is slow to focus on her own performance and the reward of winning together, for her, outweighs the disappointment of a bad game.
In the third quarter of the Feb. 20 game against Savannah, the freshman fouled out with 4 points to her name. However, this didn’t change her enthusiasm towards the team’s emphatic win and its new conference title.
“It felt so good to win,” Vierthaler said. “It was such a big win and getting to put another number on the board for a conference title was good.”
Vierthaler’s team-oriented mindset goes beyond the statistics. Being the new kid on the block typically results in learning the ropes from people who have been around. She attributed that helping hands from her teammates. Vierthaler said that her teammates are what keep her working so hard and help her stay focused on what she must do in order to play to her best ability.
Aside from the motivation she receives from her team, her self-motivation gives her an extra boost to train beyond the time she works with her fellow ’Hounds. Albrecht is impressed with how often Vierthaler will text or call him to unlock the gym to shoot around. He said it is never an inconvenience for him because that is the type of player he likes.
“The thing that stands out to me about Rylee is her passion for the game,” Albrecht said. “She is one of the three girls who almost compete to see who can stay in the gym the longest. She is a basketball player first and you build your program around people like her.”
Vierthaler also plays volleyball for Maryville in the fall but is completely sold on playing basketball.
Her work transformed her talent into a valued piece of Maryville’s top tier team in its district, but she never let’s that get ahead of her. Vierthaler’s ideas on how she continues to stay at her best stem from her upbeat personality. During games, she likes to keep her thoughts light and not bring stress to her favorite sport.
“I’m always laughing, almost to the point where it’s probably too much,” Vierthaler said. “I know when to be serious, but I like to have a good time.”
Her kind and fun-loving demeanor is met with good reception. Albrecht enjoys having her as a player and counts getting to know her this season as a pleasure. The talent she brings to the table, Albrecht said, is never met with arrogance, and she refuses to put herself above anyone else.
On top of the recognition she received for being the person that she is, Vierthaler quickly received praise for her value on the court.
“She brings versatility. We can play her inside but also bring her out on the perimeter more as a three-guard,” Albrecht said. “She has the ability to post up and score with her good hands and feet. If you don’t have a hand in her face, she can knock down a 3. She’s a better 3-point shooter than anyone knows because she doesn’t shoot that many of them.”
Vierthaler’s performance in the postseason, in some ways, is important to how far the Spoofhounds go. Her mindset and personality, along with her willingness, Albrecht said, is what he’s most pleased with.
“I want people to know that I go 100%, 100% of the time,” Vierthaler said.