Rylan Oster thriving in hockey-rich culture after his family moved from Clark County to Minnesota
He has the drive.
He has the skills.
And he has the support system to chase after his dreams.
Rylan Oster just needed to find the right place for him to excel.
That meant leaving his friends in Clark County and moving to Minnesota and now playing for an elite hockey club in South Dakota.
Oster started playing hockey back when he was in elementary school. He had heard stories of the game from his uncle, who played for years, and from his mom, who grew up in Alaska.
Rylan always wanted to give it a shot.
Well, he became so good at the game, eventually, in order to keep taking his shot, he felt that he had to get out of Clark County.
Now a sophomore in high school, Rylan played for a club team in South Dakota this season and he has been based in hockey-crazed Minnesota for much of the past three years.
Camas High School knows the family well. Rylan’s dad is Rory Oster, the athletic director for one of the most successful sports programs in Washington. Camas sports teams have won 13 state championships in Oster’s eight years at the school.
Alas, there is no high school hockey in Camas.
For Rylan to chase his dreams, he had to seek out more challenges.
Early in the seventh grade, when he was attending Skyridge Middle School in Camas, Rylan and family headed to Minnesota to visit Breakaway Academy.
It was hockey heaven, with an emphasis on academics, as well. School every day. Hockey every day. A perfect combination. A win-win for the Oster family.
Soon enough, Rylan was accepted to Breakaway, and he moved to Minnesota. At first, he stayed with family friends.
“When it was time to go out there, it was super hard for me,” Rylan said. “Until I was out there about a month, and I fell in love with it. But it was, for sure, hard to say goodbye to people.”
He has remained in touch with a number of Camas friends, including athletes who are shining for the Papermakers.
Rylan shined this past hockey season in South Dakota. But long before he went to Sioux Falls, big changes had to be made. Those first few months staying with friends? That was OK … temporarily. But no way could it be permanent.
So mom and dad — Robyn and Rory — found a place in Carver, Minn., and moved the family. Rylan’s younger sister Reagan, now 13, and younger brother, Reece, now 8, are in school in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Wait, what? Rory is still the AD at Camas, right?
Yes. Yes, he is, but it is safe to say he and Robyn have earned — and used — plenty of frequent flyer miles.
This is a bit crazy, Rylan acknowledges. He also understands how special this opportunity is for him to strive to become a professional hockey player one day.
“It’s something I’m super grateful for,” Rylan said via phone interview. “Hockey kind of would have been a dead-end out there for me, and I’d have to find something else to do. For them to move up here and make a sacrifice, it’s huge for me.”
For Rory, the key was communication with his supervisors, his co-workers, and coaches. The Camas School District was more supportive than Rory could ever imagine. He also credits Marcia Johnson, the athletic secretary at the high school, who, he said, is a rock star with her organizational skills.
In a plan that was approved by his supervisors, Rory works in Camas during the week and will often fly to Minnesota for long weekends, using his vacation days when they are needed. He and the family are apart for weeks at a time during some stretches of the school calendar.
Robyn and Rory both make the “commute,” if you will, often with one of them in Minnesota and the other in Camas — depending on each other’s schedules.
Earlier this school year, Rory flew to PDX from Minneapolis and Robyn was at the gate there to greet him. She was getting on the same plane for the return flight to Minneapolis.
Whatever it takes to make it work, right?
“It’s hard. My wife is unreal. She’s super human. She’s back there juggling. She’s out there the bulk of it. We just made this plan,” Rory Oster said. “We’re going to go back and forth when we need to until we figure out how this plays out. Sacrifice. Effort. The understanding that this isn’t forever.”
No, clearly not forever. In fact, Rory Oster announced recently that this is his final year at Camas. He is moving to Minnesota as the Osters become a one-household family again. (For more on Oster’s time as Camas’ AD, click here: Camas Athletic Director Rory Oster leaving his post after the school year to move to Minnesota)
For Rory, this is a way of giving back. His own parents provided for his unusual dream when Rory was a teenager. Back then, he was all about rodeo and bull riding. Rory Oster traveled hundreds of miles every weekend throughout the Northwest, finding a place to compete. Eventually, Rory did go professional for a brief stint. He made it.
“That was my dream, to ride bulls at a high level,” Rory Oster said. “My parents supported it. Whatever they needed to do, they did it to make it happen. That was instilled in me.”
What Rory had with bull riding, Rylan has with hockey.
“To see the passion my son has and how much he loves playing the game, it’s a duty as a mother and a father. If we have the resources and can do it, give him everything we can to be successful,” Rory said. “If he’s going to put in the work and chase the dream, we’re going to support it.”
Rylan played for his local team in Minnesota during his eighth-grade year, while training every day at Breakaway. COVID-19 hit during that year. Breakaway Academy is only available to students through the eighth grade. With the uncertainty of the pandemic, the family stayed in Minnesota.
Rylan attended Chaska High School his freshman year and played on the top-ranked bantam team in the state.
He expected to stay there this school year, too, but over the summer, a coach asked Rylan to try out for the Sioux Falls Power in South Dakota. Rylan made it, and he just concluded his 60-plus game schedule for a National Tier 1 Elite program.
Great development and great exposure, the family says of the Sioux Falls experience. The Power played tournaments throughout the country. Sioux Falls is about a 3-hour, 15-minute drive from Carver. Rylan is staying with a host family in South Dakota, where he will finish out the school year.
It’s the off season now, but anyone who is this committed to a sport knows there really is no offseason. He will be working out, getting ice time, and preparing for the next season.
He was a little homesick those first few weeks in Minnesota. Not anymore. Rylan Oster has the best of two worlds.
“We’re meeting all these wonderful people, and then you think about how we’re also from the Northwest,” he said. “It’s super crazy.”
Rylan said he will keep in touch with his friends at Camas, and he will always cheer for the Papermakers.
But his heart belongs to hockey.
The goal is to one day make it to the professional ranks, and, along the way, get an education via hockey, playing in college.
To accomplish these goals, Rylan Oster wanted to live in a place with a rich hockey culture. Yes, he misses life in Camas, but he is thriving in the Midwest.
“Love of the game,” Rylan said. “I felt this was best for my future. I still think that. I’m happy to be out here.”