Growing up on a cattle ranch in Menan, Idaho, taught Ty Shippen about more than how to fix a fence or round up a herd of cows. He learned how to work.
Ty, a 6-1 junior, grew up on the same piece of earth his great-great grandfather had settled. That great-great grandfather turned a sagebrush-laden piece of land into a successful farm-a farm that raised more than just cattle.
The farm recently raised five children who have all learned how to follow a dream and achieve goals. Ty, a walk-on guard who has played the last two seasons at Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, is the latest in a long line of Shippens to achieve a goal.
"Playing college basketball, and playing at BYU, is something I've always wanted to do," Ty said. "I've been around basketball, all sports really, my entire life and I've always wanted to play at this level."
Ty is the youngest of five Shippens (four boys and one girl) that have all enjoyed athletic success at the collegiate level. Two of his brothers (Shane and Trent) played college basketball while another was a two-sport star at Idaho State University. His one sister has a Super Bowl championship ring that she earned while a cheerleader for the San Francisco 49ers.
Despite his athletic family, Ty brings more to the court than a strong heritage. He brings a solid understanding as well as a sincere love for the game that is rare in any player. This love for the game has been amplified this season as Ty has had to walk on to a Cougar team that is stronger than it has been in years.
"I think when you walk on to a team you have to really love the game," said Kaly Gillette Shippen, Ty's wife, a 5-6 senior from Paul, Idaho on the BYU women's basketball team that is coached by Ty's older brother Trent.
"He loves the game. He is able to go out everyday and encourage his teammates and work hard and still come home with a good attitude even though his playing time isn't where he would like it to be."
Sitting on the bench is something that is foreign to Ty, who was a first-team all-state selection out of Rigby High School, and it is something that he admits is hard to get used to. He started every game during his junior college career at Ricks, most of those at point guard.
"The new role I have has been a real challenge to get used to," Ty said. "I just try to keep a good perspective and remember that I am a walk-on. There are guys that have scholarships and that are great players. If I have a chance to play I just want to make the most of it."
At the start of this season, Ty played in three games and was 2-for-2 from the floor while averaging 1.3 points per game, 1.3 assists per game and 1.0 rebounds per game. Although his playing time has been limited, Ty knows that there is still a lot he can give toward the team's success.
"Coach (Steve) Cleveland was very up-front when I talked with him about playing on the team," Ty said. "He was honest and didn't give me unrealistic hopes. I know that my role on this team is to do all I can to make everyone else better. I try to make other players work harder and try to give the starters a real live look in practice."
Playing for the Cougars wasn't something Ty has always planned on doing. In fact, after graduating from Ricks College last spring he was offered chances to go to other schools where there was more playing time in his future. His decision to come to BYU and try to make the team was based on something more important to Ty than basketball- his wife.
"The biggest reason I came to BYU was because my wife had an opportunity to play here and I didn't want to be away from her," Ty said. "We talked a lot about the options we had and this was the one we felt best about. I talked to the coaches (at BYU) and they said they would give me a look. That was all I could ask for and I am excited to be on the team."
Kaly, who sat out last season after transferring to BYU from San Diego State, understands the rarity of her husband's unselfish act.
"I appreciate his coming here," Kaly said. "It's not the ideal situation for him as far as playing time, but it's so nice to see each other face-to-face. He's just always so supportive and it is great to come home and to be able to talk to him about things."
One of the best things Ty has gained from his time on the BYU basketball team is the knowledge from the strong coaching staff. Another goal Ty has is that of being a coach like his brothers Trent and Troy. He says that being in the practices has helped him understand the game more.
"Coach (Heath) Schroyer does a great job coaching defense and I have learned a lot from Coach Cleveland's offensive scheme. I have played for three different head coaches and I've learned from all three of them. I wish I had a playbook that had every play I have ever been taught in it. That would really help if I were to become a coach."
Ty's brother, Trent, said he saw the opportunity to learn from the BYU coaching staff as an obvious advantage to playing for the Cougars.
"I told him about the great coaches at BYU," Trent said. "I told him he would learn nothing but positive things from Steve (Cleveland) and his staff."
Despite all of the success Ty has had in the past on the basketball court and all of the challenges he faces now, he always goes back to the ranch he grew up on-the ranch where his parents and two of his brothers have homes, and probably will live there for a long time.
There is a domed building on the Shippen ranch that has an indoor basketball hoop. Although logic would say the Shippens developed their basketball skills shooting on that rim, Kaly offers a different answer.
"People look at the domed building with the hoop in it and think that the Shippens just sit around and shoot all day, but what people don't realize is that most of the time the dome is filled with farm equipment," Kaly said.
"That is really what the Shippens are about. They work really hard at everything they do."
Ty's father Emmett understands the value growing up on the farm had on all his children, including the baby, Ty.
"I think that the farm taught them to work hard," Emmett said. "They learned the value of teamwork. We had to work together on some of the jobs or we couldn't do them. That is what helped them be good athletes."
Ty admits that although the work he had to do on the farm was not always enjoyable, he learned more lessons on it than how to shoot a basketball.
All In the Idaho family
Serving The Shippen family is no stranger to the athletic arena. Ty is the youngest of five children, all of whom have taken part in collegiate athletics. Here is a list of some of the ties the Shippen family have to the playing field.
* Shane (the oldest son) played basketball at Ricks College from 1983 to 1985. He was also a four-sport (football, basketball, baseball and track) letterman at Rigby High School in Rigby, Idaho.
* Trent played basketball at Colorado State and Ricks College. He and Shane played on the same team at Ricks College in 1983-84 that took sixth place in the NJCAA National Tournament. While at Colorado State, he played on the first WAC championship team ever at CSU. The Rams also placed third in the NIT his first season there (1987-88) and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament his senior season (1988-89). He is currently the head coach of the BYU women's team. He has also been the head women's coach at Ricks College and was an assistant coach on the Ricks College men's team before coming to Provo. Trent is in his fourth year as head coach for BYU's Women's Basketball team and brought a 53-36 (.596) record into this season.
* Troy was a two-sport letterman at Idaho State University and Ricks College. He was the Big Sky Conference champion in the decathlon and was also a starting defensive back for the Bengal football team. While at Ricks College he placed second in the nation in the decathlon. He is currently the head football coach at Rigby High School.
* Amy Shippen Mortensen was a cheerleader at BYU and went on to earn a Super Bowl championship ring as a cheerleader for the San Francisco 49ers. She was also a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Clippers.
* Eric Mortensen, Amy's husband, was a running back at BYU from 1988 to 1991.
* Kaly Gillette Shippen, Ty's wife, currently plays for the BYU women's basketball team. She has also played at Ricks College and San Diego State previous to coming to BYU.
Emmett Shippen says the most fun he has had was the summer he and all of his sons were on the same softball team. The father of the family, understands that athletic performance isn't what is truly important. "The number one thing is how you end up," Emmett said. "I appreciate the fact that my kids are good citizens. That's what's important. We've been blessed. I married the right woman."