Education above all

TAHS GRADUATE Ryan Luft brings plenty of basketball — and life — experience to the bench as an assistant coach at Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg High School. Photo / Per Peterson

Ryan Luft grabbed our attention in multiple sports while a student-athlete at Tracy Area High School, most notably on the basketball court, where he scored 1,365 points (he is currently No. 4 on the boys’ basketball all-time scoring list).

But since graduating from high school, Luft has come to realize that sports is merely a sidebar to life and education.

Luft, a 1994 graduate of TAHS, is currently a social studies teacher in the Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg School District, which is located about one-and-a-half hours north of Tracy, about 17 miles west of Willmar. Before he and his family moved to the KMS School District, Luft spent seven years as principal at Yellow Medicine East.

“Athletics is just a gateway to something,” said Luft, who was recently in Tracy coaching the Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg girls’ basketball team, on which his older two daughters play. “Academics is where it’s at. It’s fun watching my kids play, but we tell them all the time they’re going to get more scholarship money in academics than you’ll ever get athleticalls. It’s hard for a kid to understand that, but we tell kids, the mountain of success is built on failures.”

Ryan and his wife Rachel are raising four children: Madelynn (16), Mamie (14), Henry (12) and Eleanor (10).

“It’s quite the dynamic, quite a group,” Luft said. “We had planned for a big family … you know, you’re window is so short with them. COVID was actually kind of good for our family because it allowed us to stop, reset — what are our priorities? We just kind of reunited as a group of six. That was kind of a window for us to move to Kerkhoven and take care of family.”

See more in this week’s paper!