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Clothing-optional Whitworth kicker ponders high expectations

Whitworth kicker Rehn Reiley hit 15 of 23 field goals and 33 of 34 extra points last season. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Whitworth kicker Rehn Reiley hit 15 of 23 field goals and 33 of 34 extra points last season. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

The outcome of football games often comes down – after all those blocks, hits and tackles – to the leg of a kicker who spends most of his time doing his own thing during practices.

And Whitworth kicker Rehn Reiley does his own thing like no other.

Put simply, the kicker would rather live his life free of shirts, pants and shoes.

“I don’t know. I just don’t like clothes that much,” Reiley said. “Going shirtless, that just seems like the most socially approved method.”

The sophomore from Moses Lake led the Pirates in scoring last season in a year in which Whitworth went 9-2 and made it to the NCAA Division III playoffs for only the third time in school history.

This year, Reiley, who hit 15 of 23 field goals and 33 of 34 extra points, enters the season as a preseason All-American. This comes from a kid who played soccer as a youth and only tried out for the Moses Lake football team on a lark.

“I was at a soccer tournament with a buddy. We heard the punter wasn’t going to play,” Reiley said.

With nothing to do that moment, Reiley accompanied his friend to the tryout for the Moses Lake football team.

“I ended up beating (the buddy) and the other guys,” Reiley said. “All of the sudden I’m playing college football.”

It’s something his late father, Patrick Reiley, never got to see. The younger Reiley played in a football game on a Friday and his father joined him for a weekend of soccer games. The next Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, Patrick Reiley didn’t show up after football practice to pick up Rehn.

Reiley, who was 16 at the time, walked miles home, stepped into the house and found his 64-year-old father had died in his sleep.

“It was super unexpected, super not what I thought was going to happen, ever,” Reiley said. “He was a really big supporter of me playing football and any sports.

“I just make sure to let people know that you always overuse, ‘I love you,’ because you never know when you can’t. It made me grow up a lot faster. That’s for sure.”

But Reiley doesn’t equate growing up to following social norms, like wearing clothes.

The Pirates gathered late last season to practice at Albi Stadium for their upcoming playoff game. The weather was downright cold, a humid cold, a bite that cuts through any available layers and chills the body the core.

And there was Reiley, bouncing around the field, shirtless.

“It’s a comfort thing,” Reiley said. “A shirt is just another infringement.”

Whitworth coach Rod Sandberg said Reiley’s choice of clothing isn’t restricted to the football field. Many of his fellow college students don’t know his name, but they know the football player who never wears a shirt.

“I’m telling you, every single team event or meeting,” Sandberg said. “He has a reputation. I think sometimes those grow, but he likes to live up to that reputation.”

But Sandberg added that Reiley is not your standard kicker, the type who can sometimes make fans cringe when they are the last human being between a fleet kick returner and the end zone.

“There’s a lot of times the kicker is just soft, doing his own little thing and doesn’t work hard,” Sandberg said. “Rehn Reiley wants to run every sprint and win every sprint. He’s just a positive personality who is a real character.”

Last January, Reiley decided to take senior linebacker Dalin McDonnell and sophomore defensive end Chase Wilcutt camping in the North Idaho mountains … without a tent.

Reiley and McDonnell slept in separate hammocks and Wilcutt did his best to build some sort of structure out of rocks.

“It snowed during the night,” Reiley said. “It’s something we have talked about doing again. It was a lot of fun.”

Reputation or not, the theology major said he now faces the added pressure of expectations.

“As a whole unit, we have really high goals. We’d like to be way up there in the standings for each special teams unit,” he said. “But, I wouldn’t be where I’m at without my front line, long snapper … and Jonah Koski, my holder. I can’t say I did all this on my own.”

Even so, Sandberg said he has no reservations sending out the “shirtless one” when the Pirates need a win.

“He’s an excellent player,” Sandberg said. “When we send the field-goal team out, it doesn’t matter if it’s 50 yards or an onside kick, we believe he will perform under pressure.”


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