Jaryn Ruether of the BU Bobcats women’s volleyball team stretches to keep the ball in play in action during the 2010-11 season. (FILE PHOTO)
When Jaryn Ruether moved from Grande Prairie, Alta., to the Wheat City to join the Brandon University Bobcats women’s volleyball team, she didn’t think she’d stick around long after her playing days ended. Life, however, isn’t turning out the way she planned.
Ruether, who spent three seasons playing for the Bobcats before joining Lee Carter’s coaching staff last year, has made Brandon her home and is now working as a nurse at the Brandon Regional Health Centre. Although this isn’t the life Ruether imagined when she first came to Manitoba’s second-largest city, it’s one she’s enjoying.
"I thought I’d be back home after graduation, but things change and I’m happy to be around still," she said. "It’s hard (to move) though because you make so many friends here."
The 24-year-old works on a unit that deals with a wide range of problems, including patients who are recovering from heart attacks or battling pneumonia, kidney failure or liver failure as well as people suffering from alcohol withdrawal.
Dealing with people who have a plethora of health conditions is a good challenge for the young nurse, who is in charge of making assessments and communicating with patients, their family members and the doctors. It’s a fast-paced and stressful environment, but one she enjoys.
"We do all kinds of things up there with such a wide variety of diseases that you see," said Ruether, who was voted valedictorian of her nursing class by her peers. "The skills and the things that you’re doing can vary so much up there, which is why I’m really liking it."
BU’s nursing program was just part of the reason why Ruether decided to come to Brandon. The move also was an opportunity to play Canada West university volleyball instead of being in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.
Ruether, a 5-foot-10 left side, didn’t miss much of a beat in her move as she started 49 of her 62 matches as a Bobcat. She finished her career in Brandon with 588 kills, 527 digs, 50 aces and 79 blocks. She captained the Bobcats in the 2011-12 season, her final as a player, and she won the Nancy Stanley Award for BU’s outstanding female athlete and the Student Union Service Award at the team’s annual award banquet that season.
When Ruether’s playing career ended, she was second in BU women’s volleyball history in career kills and attack attempts and third in digs and total points.
She joined Carter’s coaching staff as an assistant the following season, since she still had one more year of schooling left to finish her degree.
Now that she’s done school, Ruether is struggling to find time to keep volleyball in her life. She still plays as much as she can in a senior women’s league and tries to attend the Bobcats’ home matches, but that can be a struggle because of her work schedule.
That doesn’t mean Ruether isn’t interested in becoming more involved in the sport again. She’d like to get back into coaching one day, but she knows she’ll have to find a way to balance her work and personal life with being a coach.
"I miss playing and I miss being a coach and being around it," she said. "You really miss it. It’s a little bit of a hole when you’re not involved. Eventually I would like to coach at some level, so I need to find a balance between a career and that to make that happen."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 21, 2013