Nathan Fenske: Earned, not given
In 2022, the Lakeview football team had one of its most impressive seasons. The Lakers started the season 9-1, reached the 5A Section Championship and defeated Minneota for the first time in program history.
The Lakers boys basketball team has continued the theme of Lakeview athletic excellence into the winter sports season, getting off to a 15-3 start and establishing itself as a legitimate contender for the section-or even state-championship. Nathan Fenske is the common link between the two.
Fenske is a senior wide receiver on the Lakeview football team and a wing for the basketball team. During football season, he caught 51 passes for 917 yards and 14 touchdowns, all team highs. Despite these impressive numbers, football still isn’t Fenske’s primary sport.
The 6-foot-2-inch shooting guard plays a physical, well-rounded style of basketball. He scores at three levels, rebounds, and never quits on defense.
He won’t be going far after he finishes his time at Lakeview. He’ll be playing collegiate hoops at SMSU in the fall, a 15-minute drive away from his current home court.
While he chose basketball in the end, Fenske’s choice wasn’t an easy one. He was offered preferred walk-on status for football at the University of South Dakota.
“It was really [USD] or SMSU. And I just really, really came down to what I love more. What do you want to be doing every day? If I did lose one sport, I’d like really miss basketball,” Fenske said.
Practice is something Fenske takes very seriously. He throws down highlight dunks in games but knows the importance of putting in hours of training that don’t make it onto a mixtape.
“He’s always wanting to learn more and wanting to get better at some part of his game,” Lakeview head basketball coach Jared Keaveny said. “He’s got that mentality that he wants to be better, but he’s also willing to take the time and work at it. It’s not a magic formula that he’s done. He’s just put the time in.”
“It seems like every year, he just adds a little piece, whether it’s his ball handling, his shooting, decision making. He’s one of those kids that just not one area stands out, but he just keeps finding a way to get better at everything,” Keaveny said.
While Fenske’s game is very well-rounded, both Fenske and Keaveny view his outside shooting as the part of his game that has seen the most improvement.
The work has paid off. Fenske has broken the Lakeview single-game scoring record multiple times this season, most recently with a 39-point performance against Renville County West on Jan. 19. While the accolades are nice, they’re not the reason Fenske plays.
“I like winning, like the team part of it. It’s about how you bond with your team, it creates a bunch of brothers,” Fenske said. “I want to go to states and compete for a state championship, that motivates me every day.”
The chip on Fenske’s shoulder also plays into his approach to football.
“We had lost to [Minneota] like 57-0, we remembered that. We remembered that score throughout the year, we had that game circled. We were going to get our payback,” Fenske said.
Lakeview completed eight passes in their 2022 regular season matchup against Minneota. Fenske caught seven of those passes for 135 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead the Lakers to a 30-13 win, the program’s first-ever over the Vikings.
While the Lakers lost in the rematch to the Vikings in the 5A Championship, Fenske and his teammates still held their heads high. While they felt like they could have gone further, Fenske said, they still took pride in putting together a historic season for the program.
With football in the books, Fenske focuses on the footwork and physicality of his football training and applying it to leading his teammates to a basketball championship.
“My teammates, they know how I play. They know how to run, get the ball in transition, and I can finish up at the rim or I can pull up,” Fenske said. “We’ve played together on varsity for three years since we were sophomores, so we’re always setting each other up for success.