By Rich Palzewic
Name: Tyler Rukamp
Sports: Baseball, football
Positions: Pitcher, infielder
Parents: Joe and Stacy Rukamp
Tyler Rukamp is a senior at West De Pere High School on the baseball and football teams.
He’ll be attending UW-La Crosse this fall to study biochemistry, with the hopes of eventually becoming an orthopedic surgeon.
Rukamp’s hobbies include listening to music, hanging with friends, video games and traveling to his family’s cabin up north.
Is there a story behind your nickname?
“My kindergarten teacher started calling me ‘Spike’ because I had a cowlick in my hair.”
Tell me about your family.
“Both of my parents graduated from De Pere High School in the same class. I also have two younger sisters. Kaylee is a junior and Braelynn is a sixth-grader.”
Do you come from a sports family?
“My dad played baseball, football and basketball and my mom did softball, volleyball and basketball in high school. Kaylee mainly plays softball, and Braelynn does softball and basketball.”
Did you do other sports at West De Pere?
“I played basketball my freshman and sophomore years.”
Is there a sport you wish you’d done?
“Hockey – I used to play when I was younger.”
What was it like having your dad as your baseball coach?
“I’ve always had my dad as my coach from a young age, but there was a little added pressure to perform. When you have a parent as your coach, some people believe that gives you a free ride to make the team, but that wasn’t the case for me.”
Was he harder on you because of that?
“I don’t think so – he treated everybody the same and was fair.”
I saw him play back in the day – he was a phenomenal player. Does he ever share stories with you?
“He does, but mostly, I’ll dig around and find old newspaper clippings from his playing days or my grandpa will tell stories.”
Your dad is also a teacher at West De Pere.
“I had him for chemistry my sophomore year and AP (Advanced Placement) chemistry my junior year. If he didn’t answer when I called him ‘Coach’ or ‘Mr. Rukamp,’ I’d call him ‘Dad’ to get his attention.”
If the spring season hadn’t been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, could West De Pere have made it back to the WIAA state tournament?
“It would have been a good year. We would have been playing in Division 1, but having players like Ben Hampton and Cameron Dupont would have helped.”
Does the Division 2 state semifinal loss to Antigo from last season still haunt you?
“It was a tough loss, but at least we lost to the eventual champions.”
When did it first cross your mind you might not have a season this spring?
“I held out hope, but when the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and the NBA closed down in March, I figured it was over.”
How hard can you throw, and what pitches are in your repertoire?
“I throw between 80 and 83 mph. I throw a fastball, curve and changeup.”
What’s your most memorable sports moment?
“The trip to state last year was great, but beating Waupun (11-0) and Seymour (13-3) at sectionals the same day was amazing. We had like five home runs on the day, and I’ve never had more fun playing baseball as I did that day.”
What’s something about you most people don’t know?
“I attempt to play the guitar, and I used to play the saxophone.”
What three words describe you?
“Selfless, kind, caring.”
What will you miss about West De Pere?
“Seeing my dad every day in the hallways and seeing my friends.”
Chocolate or vanilla?
Spring or fall?
Biking or running?
Booth or table?
Dogs or cats?
Baseball player: Jackie Robinson
Ice cream: Blue Moon
Candy: Kit Kat