Nicole Ruske isn’t your typical Kiwi student, in fact, she’s far from it.
The 19-year-old somehow managed to balance studies, coaching and a social life, all while seeing an increase in her successes on the court.
Things actually got so busy for the AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush guard she decided to take some time off from her studies this year to focus on her passion.
Ruske said that dedicating herself solely to basketball did take some getting used to, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve been fortunate to be a part of a number of different teams and with that comes a lot of training, games and travel.
“The decision to put uni to the side was tough, but I think it was necessary for me to be my best on the court.”
“It did take some getting used to having so much time dedicated to basketball and I’m aware that it’s a privileged position to be in, so I love it.”
Her pivotal role with the Gold Rush in the 2018 Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) saw her selected for the Tall Ferns later that year.
She considers this to be the “highlight” of her young career and that it has motivated her to put her best foot forward with her play.
The ability she has shown on the hardwood stems from a number of factors, one of which is her strong work ethic and desire to get herself in the gym.
Credit also lies with the “basketball gene” that was passed down to her by her dad, Dean Ruske, who also played for Otago while she was a toddler.
“My earliest proper memories of basketball are actually from year three or four when I played in a school final against our rivals, but I also vaguely remember being around dad when he was playing,” said Ruske.
“My dad was definitely the reason I got into the game and having an older sister who also played made it that much more important to me.”
“We were super competitive as kids and I think it was good for me to have an older sibling to go against as it prepared me for tougher opposition.”
Ruske has only just returned from China where she partook in the FIBA 3X3 Asia Cup with the women’s National Team. They bowed out in the quarterfinals to Japan and finished seventh after upsetting the no.1 ranked China earlier in pool play.
All of her attention is now back to the WBC, where the Gold Rush is sadly riding a three-game losing streak.
This week the team will play back-to-back against the Taranaki Thunder and Waikato Wizards, which is an opportunity to claim four vital points in their race for the playoffs.
“We’ve got a new coach this year and some new girls, so it’s been a learning curve for all of us.”
“The team trains hard and all we have to do now is execute on both what the coach says and what we see in front of us.”
Individual game stats here
Watch the following livestream games on http://nz.basketball/tv
Taranaki v Otago (6:15pm Friday)
Auckland v Canterbury (7:15pm Saturday)
Watch the 2019 Women’s Basketball Championship on the livestream though Facebook @BasketballNZ, hashtag #NZWBC.
See the draw, results and teams and more at http://nz.basketball/WBC
Want to play basketball? Contact your local association through http://nz.basketball/The-Huddle