Pioneers’ Biggest Fans
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They’re the Pioneers’ biggest fans. Attending as many home and away games as they can, Ryan Robinson and his dad, Steve, have made MNU athletic events their priority for the last four years. The coaches and players all know the junior from Olathe South High School. And giving him a fist bump on the way into the arena is a rite before every game. Ryan Robinson is a self-proclaimed “sports nut.”
“It’s made for a lot of great father son bonding time,” says Steve. Although he’s quick to add that he wasn’t a sports fan before Ryan came along. “I don’t know where he gets it, but since he was four years old he’s been fascinated with NASCAR, football, soccer. His sister and my wife don’t have a strong interest in sports either.”
“I just caught the bug,” Ryan laughs, about his fascination with athletic events. He knows all the stats for MNU sports and spends time after every game on mnusports.com catching up. “I know all the players names without looking on a roster,” he boasts.
Sitting next to him at the Feb. 19 women’s basketball game between MNU and Peru State (83-41) I noticed that it’s easy for him to rattle off the play-by-play in the stands. In fact, he broadcasts the play-by-play online for Olathe South football. He’s hoping to take broadcasting classes in college and become a sports broadcaster or radio DJ. He plans on starting at Johnson County Community College before deciding where to transfer.
So how did the Robinsons become such supportive MNU fans? A software engineer at Garmin, Steve says he was relating to a coworker that Ryan wanted to attend professional sporting events. But the time and expense was prohibitive. Additionally, Ryan, who has cerebral palsy, uses a wheel chair and a walker. So the venue of events can also be an issue. The coworker suggested they try the local university’s sporting events. After all, an NAIA Div. I school provides exciting athletic events with competition from a variety of regional universities. With MNU nearby, the two decided to attend a Pioneer football game. Ryan has followed every MNU sport ever since.
Now that the basketball season is winding up, Ryan says it has been an awesome season for the Pioneer women and a rollercoaster for the men. He thinks Evangel or Benedictine will take the conference title for the men, but he’s hopeful Pioneer women will take it with only one loss so far.
His favorite Pioneer men’s basketball player is Olathe South grad David Nelson because “he is so good at shooting 3’s.” When asked about his favorite on the women’s team, he just smiles. “I like ‘em all. I can’t decide.”
It’s easy for Ryan to recall moments from the whole season. Most memorable he says is the Graceland away game.
“The men were down in the first half by five,” he says, his eyes lighting up. “But in the second half they put their feet on the gas pedal and never let up. We won by 24 points.”
Attending those away games endears the Robinsons to the athletic teams even more. Head men’s basketball coach Rocky Lamar says the players like seeing Ryan at games.
“It doesn’t matter, win, lose or draw, they’re at every game,” Lamar says. “The guys think the world of Ryan.”
If you see the Robinsons at an MNU game, be sure to say hi. They love MNU and all its fans, and they are happy to talk sports with anyone. These fans, in particular, are one of the great benefits MNU enjoys from being part of the Olathe community.