Athlete of the Week-Stephen Reifenberger.jpg

Senior Stephen Reifenberger is the Hastings Star Gazette's Athlete of the Week. Alec Hamilton / Hastings Star Gazette

Hastings Raiders senior wide receiver Stephen Reifenberger is the Hasting Star Gazette’s Athlete of the Week. Reifenberger is a critical part of the Raiders’ offense with 14 receptions for 218 yards and 5 touchdowns through the first five games of the season.

Hastings is 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the Suburban-Maroon sub-district. They travel to Two Rivers (formerly Henry Sibley) on Saturday to take on the Warriors who are 0-5. 

It has been a breakout year for Reifenberger, who caught 15 passes for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns in seven games as a junior.

Below he talks about how he’s improved, his senior year and ambitions to play college football.

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Senior wide receiver Stephen Reifenberger turns on a dime after hauling in a pass against Apple Valley. Alec Hamilton / Hastings Star Gazette

Q: How do you think you’ve improved from last year to this year?

SR: Definitely in my technique and my fundamentals. Last year as a junior I was just kind of big and tall, and not very coordinated yet. So this summer we built around our receivers and strengthened our outside, perimeter guys.

Q: Do you have any personal goals for this year?

SR: Yeah I want to play college ball and set the bar as high as I can for myself. Just work hard and finish out our senior year here.

Q: How has it felt having the student section back, the crowd back, all of that?

SR: Oh gosh, I mean last year nobody in the stands, quiet, it definitely helps so much. This place was packed tonight. One of our older coaches said it was the most he’s ever seen this place filled. It’s crazy the support the community has for this team.

Q: Last season without the crowd, you guys had to build yourself up, pump yourself up, has that helped you this year at all having gone through that?

SR: Yeah I think so. Definitely being able to play our game without anybody watching, I guess you could say it lays off the pressure a little bit but there’s also pressure if you have to win the game even when there’s nobody here.

Q: Outside of football, what are you looking forward to most here your senior year?

SR: I just want to enjoy the heck out of it, to any younger kids, don’t take it for granted. I know that sounds cliche, whatever, everybody says it. It’s just so hard when you get to senior year, I’m just trying to ride it out, enjoy it, get good grades and play hockey this winter as well.”

Q: What’s your favorite sport, football?

SR: That’s a tough one, both are really special to me. Probably football, I mean tonight was crazy, that’s what’s so special about this place, this school.

Q: You mentioned college ball, any prospects there?

SR: Lots of interest from lots of places, all levels. I’d really love the opportunity to get an offer from the University of St. Thomas (newly DI), I think I’d be a good fit for them. Just being a bigger guy, athletic, with my stats from last year and hopefully pump those stats up here this season. Maybe UND (North Dakota) UMD in Duluth.

Q: Over lockdown/quarantine, pick up any new or weird hobbies?

SR: Gaming, I started reading more than I ever have, picked up a job at a tree nursery. I re-read most of the Harry Potter series, I read them a long time ago, huge fan, then I watched the movies too. 

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