COLUMBIA — Growing up in Tennessee, Ryne Fisher heard all the stories. He heard about his grandfather, George Fisher, who played baseball for ten years with the Chicago Cubs organization. He heard about his father, Mickey Fisher, who played college basketball with “Fly” Williams on the 1973 Austin Peay team that went to the Sweet Sixteen.
Since he was a boy, Fisher has been surrounded by sports. Along with the accomplishments of his grandfather and dad, his two older brothers grew up playing soccer and his mom was a cheerleader at Austin Peay. He was even named after the famous Chicago Cub second baseman, Ryne Sandburg.
Now a junior , Fisher is looking to make a name for himself on the MU men’s golf team. He chose a different route, playing an individual sport, but he is using lessons that he learned from his family.
While most kids have childhood memories of playing on the jungle gym, Fisher’s earliest memories involve playing golf. His grandfather introduced him to the game when he was 3. By the time he was 4 or 5, he played in his first tournament.
“My granddad got a little old and was too competitive and cocky to just let it go,” Fisher said. “He got my dad into golf and it’s kind of how I would stay out of trouble.”
RyneFisher also grew up playing basketball. Everyday, father and son would either go out and hit golf balls or shoot free throws in the driveway. They were always together according, to the younger Fisher.
As Fisher made the transition to high school, one thing became clear to him. He needed to pick one sport to focus all of his attention. Golf offered him the best opportunity to excel and earn a scholarship.
“I don’t think my dad really wanted me to play basketball,” Fisher said. “He never played professionally, but he was still one hell of a player. He didn’t want me to be in his shadow.”
Even though he grew up in a family tied to sports, Fisher did not feel the pressure to be like his grandfather or dad. According to Fisher, this might be attributed to playing an individual sport.
“I didn’t really feel the pressure. I knew my bloodlines and I am very happy with what my parents and grandparents have accomplished. They have always been very supportive and understand how hard I have worked,” he said.
Staying with golf has worked out so far for Fisher. When he was deciding on colleges, Austin Peay’s head coach, Mark Leroux, recruited him. This washis gandfather and father’s alma mater.
During his senior year, Leroux became the head coach at Mizzou and told Fisher that he would honor his scholarship at Mizzou if he wanted to join the team. For Fisher it was an opportunity he could not pass up.
“I had my heart set to go away for a little bit,” he said. “I needed to get away and live on my own for a while. When coach Leroux went to Mizzou, it turned out to be an unbelievable situation.”
Although he is now hours away from his home of Clarksville, Tenn., Fisher is still using the lessons he learned from his family. One of these lessonsis the importance of listening to his coach. After playing sports, both his grandfather and father eventually became coaches. Fisher was able to see the other side of the picture.
“Ryne is very supportive of me and my abilities to coach. He trusts me and I think he understands it more than the others,” Leroux said.
Another characteristic Fisher seems to have picked up from his family is a competitive nature. When he arrived at Mizzou, Leroux wanted him to redshirt his freshman year, but Fisher had plans of his own. Even though he finished in fourth place in his first collegiate tournament, he still thinks Leroux was right.
“Now that I look back, it probably would have been a good idea to redshirt. But I am just so competitive and I had to get in the lineup,” Fisher said.
Teammate Peter Malnati has experienced his competitive drive firsthand. Malnati and Fisher grew up in Tennessee and played each other on numerous occasions during high school. Malnati is happy that they are finally on the same side.
“It’s funny. We still hate losing to each other except when we go to tournaments,” Malnati said. “It’s cool getting to be friends with someone who you always wanted to beat so badly in high school. Everything he does, he gives 100 percent.”
This season, Fisher has cracked the starting lineup in four of the five team tournaments. He has improved in each tournament, moving from a tie for 80th in his first tournament to a tie for 26th in his last.
“It’s his competitive nature,” Leroux said. “There is not a shot that he won’t try. Not a feat that he doesn’t think he can overcome. I don’t know if you call it guts or what, but he is willing to do whatever it takes.”