Jan. 17—CANISTOTA, S.D. — The era of the Ortman siblings is entering the final stretch at Canistota High School.
But before it's over, senior Tage Ortman, the youngest of five children in the athletically driven family, is busy making the most of his high school career.
As the Hawks' starting quarterback this fall, Tage led the football team to a 8-3 record and state semifinal appearance. Currently, he's helped Canistota basketball open the season 7-0, with a No. 2 ranking in Class B seed points. After graduation, he'll head up to Madison, where he's committed to playing basketball at Dakota State.
Tage's successful athletic endeavors are a culmination of his own efforts, and a product of being the youngest in a sports-avid family.
And the family isn't quite ready for it to be over.
"I'm the youngest of the family. So my parents are actually kind of bummed about that. They don't have any (high school) games to go to after this year," Tage said.
"I didn't really ever think we would get to this point," Tage's father, Ryan said. "And it's been a heck of a ride, I'll say that. Not looking forward to it ending. It's been absolutely amazing."
The Ortman families' Canistota roots run deep.
Tage's parents, Ryan and Bridget, grew up in the community and went to Canistota High School, where they each played sports. After going to college and getting married, they returned to Canistota, where they knew they wanted to raise their family.
Ryan got a basketball hoop for the oldest, Kalli, when she was one, and since then, each kid in the family has caught the sports bug. Ryan coached each of them growing up, whether it was AAU basketball, youth football or travel baseball. Tage played on the same Ryan-coached basketball team as his older brother, Trace all the way from Kindergarten to last summer.
Each sibling grew up to make an impact at the high school level. Kalli, who graduated in 2017, was a 1,000-point scorer for the basketball team. Trey, who graduated in 2020, won a pair of football state championships, and plays football at Buena Vista University in Iowa.
Tyce, who was named Mitchell Republic's football player of the year 2020 for Canistota/Freeman, won three state championships, graduated in 2021, and plays football at Dakota State. Trace, who graduated in 2023, played basketball and football, but battled shoulder injuries and chose not to play sports past high school. He goes to college in Sioux Falls.
"They come from a family where their parents were very involved and encouraged them and kept them involved in activities with sports," said Pat Jolley, Canistota's basketball coach and athletic director, who coached both Ryan and Bridget, and each Ortman sibling during his career. "It made my job easier as a coach because they were so enthusiastic about competing and getting better."
Tage had a front-row seat to the successes of each of his siblings, and has been motivated by it.
"It was fun, but it was tough at the same time," Tage said of being the youngest. "I always had something to strive for all the time because we're all competitive and we always wanted to be better than each other, and we didn't take losing very easily. So it's kind of nice to have them be so successful, so then I can try and be better than them."
That drive has played out in a variety of ways over the years.
Tage's long-time basketball trainer, Greg Kahler, recalls in the eighth grade, playing a game of 'King of the Court' with Tage, Tyce and Trey, in which Tage proceeded to "kick the crap out of" all three of them.
"He was a little cocky afterwards," Kahler joked.
Those who know him best agree Tage's meticulous work ethic is what sets him apart.
According to Ryan, his son will typically go to bed at 9 p.m. He gets up in the morning to lift weights before school. He's mindful of his diet, making sure to eat well and take his vitamins.
"He kind of lives and breathes athletics," Ryan said. "That's just what he loves to do and it's fun to see it pay off for him."
Tage has worked with Kahler since he was in fifth grade, and has cultivated a strong relationship with him.
"Whenever I want to work out, I can literally call him up and he'll say, 'Yep, come on down,'" Tage said.
Last summer, he also began traveling to Tea to workout with athletic trainer Seth Boomsma, with the goal of enhancing his athleticism — such as getting quicker, stronger and jumping higher.
"I don't know if there are many out there that have a work ethic like he does," Kahler said. "And that's in all aspects. The kid loves the weight room. He loves the gym. I think that's how he spends most of his time, just mastering his craft ... he has an extreme attention to detail and always just has that constant pursuit."
Canistota High School has had plenty of success in recent seasons, particularly in football. The Canistota/Freeman co-op won three-straight 9A championships from 2018 to 2020. The boys basketball team reached the state tournament in 2021.
"Our community is awesome," Tage said. "I know they support us in literally anything we do ... They are just insane supporters and you saw that in the football games. They like to get into it a little bit. It's fun to play for a community that really cares for the athletes and the coaches."
Tage, who was the center figure of a football offense that averaged 38.5 points per game this season, and is the leading scorer of the basketball team, admitted he's had a few moments of nostalgia about high school almost ending, including his football senior day.
But for the most part, his focus is to work alongside his teammates to maximize the basketball season. Because, Tage, like the rest of his family, is committed to giving all he has to lift his team and community.
"It's fun to carry on the tradition," Ryan said. "And I'd like to think our family and kids have done the best they can and have worked extremely hard to be successful athletes, students, and community members. You just hope to do your part. And hopefully that carries on with the generations to come."