When Kylle Robertson was in first grade he was playing catch with his dad in their North Dakota backyard.
Robertson was throwing the ball as hard as he could, so his dad — Rob — started throwing it back harder and harder.
Kylle's thumb eventually was dislocated trying to catch one of those zingers, but rather than run inside crying, Kylle got back up and threw the ball back to his dad.
That kind of toughness helped forge Robertson into the kind of quarterback he is today for Kamiakin High School — strong, determined, competitive, refusing to lose.
Never miss a local story.
“He didn't quit,” Rob Robertson said. “He got right up and started throwing it back to me. He's never been a quitter.”
Kamiakin head coach Scott Biglin knew he had a special quarterback at a practice in 2011. Robertson, then the backup, was forced into starting duties for a Class 3A first round state playoff game against Seattle Prep after starter Jason Hutchison dislocated a finger.
“We had a veteran line at the time, all five kids were back from playing in the state title game the year before,” Biglin said. “First play of practice and one of the guys jumps offsides. I remember (Kylle) chewing the kid out about discipline.
“That took some courage to be able to stand up to those guys. Me and coach (Gilbert) Marquez looked at each other and knew we had a dude.”
Robertson played well against Seattle Prep that year.
He only threw for 65 yards, but had a key fourth-down completion and two touchdowns, helping the Braves to a comeback 28-14 victory.
It was the only start he made all year, but it had a major effect on him.
“Those guys were older than me, but they were willing to do whatever it took to win,” he said. “If that took me coming in as a sophomore to be a leader, they would do it. They just wanted to keep winning.
“It was a huge confidence boost. Those games my junior year weren't nearly as big as coming into a state playoff game against Seattle Prep and whatnot.”
Robertson continued to improve, overcoming countless injuries to his wide receiving corps a year ago.
It would've been easy to mail in the season, considering the legion of injuries the Braves suffered, but that is not Robertson's character.
Instead, he kept fighting.
“I think we learned a lot about our team,” he said. “A lot of kids had to step up, be that next player in line. We learned a lot about our will to win.”
And that started under center.
“I remember at one point, we were down four receivers,” Biglin said. “We were putting guys in from the JV team. He didn't waver. He was out there practicing with those guys like they were the varsity kids. I think it helped him grow as a leader and a competitor and to put it all together.”
He has done just that this season.
He is 106-of-189 for a league-leading 1,751 yards with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions.
He has led the Braves to the Class 3A No. 1 seed and at least a third-place finish in the Mid-Columbia Conference.
Now he is hoping to take the Braves back to the Tacoma Dome for a shot at a state title.
Last year, the Braves were the No. 2 seed, but suffered a last-second 27-22 loss to University of Spokane in a crossover game.
Robertson doesn't plan on letting that happen again this season.
“It hurt losing that playoff game,” he said. “We worked out every day (this summer) knowing what it was like to come up short, knowing what it was like to lose when we were supposed to win.”
If the Braves don't make it to Tacoma, at the very least, it won't be because Robertson gave up, that is for sure.