When an athlete goes from being an “average Joe,” to being a dedicated and sometimes standout in athletics, there is usually someone or something behind the scenes that brings about the change.
Smithton Tiger junior basketball player Tyler Gerke is a recipient of such help.
“That’s a hard question,” said the 16-year old Gerke, when queried about his high school athletic highlight. “I think it would have to be when I met (Smithton boys assistant basketball coach) Daryl Sypes.
“He keeps tweaking on my game and showing me different ways to do things that I do on the court,” Gerke added. “He’s kind of taken me under his wing.”
Gerke met Sypes when he entered sixth grade at Smithton and was playing in the PTO (basketball) League at the school.
Gerke is beginning his third year on the Tiger varsity basketball team. He was selected Honorable Mention All Kaysinger Conference at guard his sophomore year when he averaged 8.8 points a game. In an away game against St. Paul’s of Concordia last year, Gerke sank five shots from behind the 3-point arc.
“I started playing basketball in the fourth grade in the PTO League, he said. “(Teammate) Dane (Apsher) and I played on a team in the Show M Games one year. I played in junior high and the varsity now.”
Gerke is an excellent student as well, with a 3.89 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, scored a 23 on the ACT and plans to take it again and is ranked third academically out of 45 students in his junior class.
He is a member of 4-H, in which he shows cattle and pigs; is a former member of the Junior National Honor Society and a current member of the National Honor Society.
“Definitely academics are more important than sports,” said Gerke. “Academics will take you a lot father toward where you want to go in life. Sports are fun in high school, but really how many people can make it in sports after high school?”
Gerke plans to attend State Fair Community College and possibly major in agricultural business after high school.
When Gerke isn’t in school, or playing basketball, he enjoys showing cattle and pigs at 4-H shows across the state, including at the Missouri State Fair and at the American Royal in Kansas City and working with his father on the family farm.
Gerke has an older brother, Adam Gerke, 21 and a student at the University of Missouri-Columbia, majoring in physical therapy.
Gerke is the son of Cindy and Nick Gerke, Smithton.