Frequent Flyers: Ryan Mikesell’s parents have missed only 8 games in his UD career

St. Henry residents have logged 58,000 miles on road, 38,000 miles in air

Reed and Lisa Mikesell received this advice from former Flyer Bobby Wehrli’s parents before their son Ryan began his Dayton Flyers career in 2015: “If you can, don’t miss any games. It goes so fast.”

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They have followed that advice as well as any parents in UD basketball history. The Flyers have played 160 games in Ryan Mikesell’s five seasons. Reed and Lisa have missed eight, driving about 70 miles to all the games at UD Arena from their home in St. Henry and flying or driving to most of the away games, too.

They missed three or four games in the 2017-18 season, which Ryan sat out after undergoing two hip surgeries. They missed one this season. Lisa was sick last week, and they couldn't travel to Rhode Island.

The Mikesells have traveled to November tournaments in Florida, California, South Carolina, the Bahamas and Maui. They have driven to games in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Amherst, Mass., Richmond, Va., etc. They'll fly to New York City on Friday morning to see No. 3 Dayton open the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The Mikesells have accumulated 58,000 miles on the road, Reed calculated, and 38,000 miles in the air. Ryan, whose college career will end this month or next if No. 3 Dayton (29-2) makes Final Four, has appreciated every trip his parents have made on his behalf.

“It’s been awesome, I’m not going to lie,” Ryan said. “It doesn’t matter what type of game I have. Just knowing they are there to back me up. I could score zero points, or I could score 20 points. They’re going to give me a big hug. They’re going to smile. Just enjoying their company has been awesome. Not many players can say that their parents have been at every game in their college career. I think they’ve missed a handful of games due to weather or when my nieces and nephews were born. I think I’m going to have a greater appreciation when I’m older and done.”

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Reed and Lisa can travel this much because they retired from their teaching jobs after Ryan’s freshman season. Lisa taught for 32 years, the last 20 in the St. Henry school system, where she taught STEM. Reed taught business at Greenville’s Career Tech Center. He was in the school system for 33 years.

In the 2015-16 season, which Ryan opened with 21 points against Southeast Missouri State in his college debut, the Mikesells took unpaid days off work so they could get to most of the games. Reed’s school was lenient and didn’t mind. Lisa’s boss told her if she took too many, it would be grounds for dismissal.

The next year, Reed and Lisa retired, and that’s made it easier to travel in the last four seasons. Ryan traveled with the team throughout his redshirt season, so they still went to most of the games. It was fun, and they got to see the country. With four kids — Ryan is the youngest — they didn’t do much traveling earlier in their lives, except on family vacations to Florida.

Lisa liked the trip last season to the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas the best. Reed picked this season’s Maui Invitational. In Hawaii, Lisa and Reed and other family members drove the Road to Hana and went on a sunset cruise. Reed got up at 5:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, the day after Dayton lost to Kansas in the championship game, to go deep-sea fishing.

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“They all got sick,” Lisa said.

“It was pretty choppy,” Reed said. “By noon, I said, ‘Let this be over please.’”

The Mikesells didn’t think they would get to go to Maui early in Ryan’s career. His career was supposed to end a season earlier.

“We kept joking, ‘Ryan’s not going to get to go to Hawaii,’” Lisa said.

“Then he had his hip surgery,” Reed said.

“Well, he gets to go to Hawaii,” Lisa said.

The redshirt season turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Ryan and his parents. Dayton would have had a better season in coach Anthony Grant’s first season if Ryan had played, but the current team has made a lot of history because of his presence. If not for the hip issue, he would have missed the greatest regular season in UD basketball history.

The extra year helped Ryan in a number of ways.

“It helped him mature,” Reed said, “and physically, he’s better off.”

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Reed admits the last game of the season is always the worst, and that will be even more true this season. Ryan enters the postseason with 847 career points in 118 games. In his four seasons on the court, Dayton has a record of 99-30. That means he can tie the 2017 senior class, which won 102 games, for most wins in a Dayton uniform if the Flyers win the A-10 tournament.

Dayton enters the A-10 tournament this week with the school record for victories (29) and with a chance to break the school record for consecutive victories in one season. It won its 20th straight game Saturday on Senior Night, routing George Washington 76-51. Reed and Lisa walked Ryan onto the court for the pregame ceremony and then took their seats in the corner where all the families sit. It was another great night in a season full of them.

“It’s been a season we’ll never forget,” Reed said.

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