YUCCA VALLEY — Nine years of hustle for Angie Reutgen and her parents paid off last week as she signed an agreement to play for the Cornell College women’s basketball team.
“It’s my dream school,” Reutgen said after signing the ceremonial document in the Yucca Valley High School gym, where she’s averaged 10.4 points per game for the Lady Trojans.
Reutgen will play for the NCAA Division III Rams at the Iowa school. She was recruited by head coach Brent Brase, who has led teams to four Midwest Conference championship titles.
“Both the head coach and the assistant coach are super passionate,” Reutgen said. “They’re all about developing players. They’re exactly the coaches I want to play for. They’re big on positive energy there.”
Brase was big on recruiting Angie Reutgen, too.
“I’ve had coaches call me before, but this coach contacted me a lot. This coach was persistent. He’s really excited for her,” Jess Geeson, girls basketball coach for Yucca Valley High School, said.
“I just told him how awesome you are, what a hard worker and a good leader you are,” he told her. “All the truth.”
In a phone interview Friday, Brase said Cornell’s coaches were impressed with Reutgen on and off the court.
“Whenever we recruit someone, the most important thing is who they are as a person and we found her to be a really genuine person, someone we believe is going to be a great teammate and someone who’s going to help our campus community just through who she is.”
As a basketball player, her guard skills attracted the coach. “She has good skills already in shooting, ball handling and passing,” Brase said. “She has room for improvement and more importantly, she has the passion and enthusiasm to work on her game and continue to improve.”
Reutgen’s Yucca Valley coaches, Geeson and assistant coach Mike Myers, stood behind her and her parents, Jackie and Kyle Reutgen, as she signed her commitment to Cornell.
Reutgen, 19, is an A student who’s been playing basketball since fourth grade. Her life has a simple rhythm: She plays ball, goes to school and trains to play better ball.
“I haven’t had time to do anything else, but it’s been worth it because I found a school I really love,” she said with a big smile.
Now that she’s gotten into college, the work hasn’t stopped. “I’m training every day until summer,” she said. “I’m working harder than I ever have.”
Her parents have hired trainers (she’s currently training in the sand to improve speed and reflexes) and driven her to games for her travel ball teams, the Desert Storm and the West Coast Warriors. Reutgen is aware of how much her family has given to her success.
“I just wanted to say thank you to my parents because they’re the reason I’m here today,” she said. “All the money and travel — they’ve literally driven me all over the world. I just want to make them proud.”
All that time driving down the hill for training sessions and travel ball means the Reutgens are especially close.
“We are best friends,” mom Jackie said. “We have been spending so much time with her. It’s very hard to let her go that far.”
They’re already proud of their daughter. “She gives everything,” Jackie Reutgen said. “She works very hard.”
Dad Kyle said he never counted the miles. “I would take her anywhere as long as she worked hard. … When it comes to basketball, she’s all in. Whatever she does, she puts everything in it.”
The funny thing is, Reutgen didn’t shine at the sport when she first picked up a ball. “I wasn’t the best when I started, so that made me push harder,” she said.
“I love it so much and when I love something, I put my whole heart in it.”
She became the senior leader for the Lady Trojans this year. Scout Clair Rogers puts it this way on his breakdown of Reutgen: “Angie is vocal and a leader on the court. She is not afraid to shoot but is always looking for a teammate with a better shot.”
Reutgen thanked all of her coaches, singling out Geeson and Myers. “You were the beginning of my first career in baseball and you helped me transition to my first career,” she told them. “Thank you for the time you’ve put in caring and pushing me.”
“I need to thank so many people!” she exclaimed.
There’s all her trainers and scout Rogers, who “found the perfect school for me.”
Reutgen will head to Iowa in August, planning to start training with the team while studying kinesiology. She wants to become a chiropractor with her own practice. Before that, though, she has another basketball goal: to become an All-American.
“It’s a new beginning now,” Reutgen said. “I’ll start my new chapter.”