Ruth Hamblin goes above and beyond the average student athlete

Ruth Hamblin juggles school and basketball while designing rockets

By Michael Kiever

Sports Reporter

No one would fault senior center and reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Ruth Hamblin for keeping her focus exclusively on basketball.

After all, the practices and workouts can last up to four hours a day, and being the defensive anchor for the nationally-ranked Oregon State women’s basketball team is no simple task.  

For Hamblin, however, the hardwood is only the starting point of her interests.

In addition to her role on the basketball team, Hamblin is a mechanical engineering major, an active member of the Rocketry team of the AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) branch at OSU, a painter and a chef. Not to mention the 18 credits of advanced engineering classes she is taking this term.

“I think Ruth is one of the most efficient people that I’ve ever coached, because (she) goes beyond student and (she) goes beyond athlete,” said OSU women’s basketball head coach Scott Rueck. “To see someone that will practice for two and a half hours, go lift for 30 minutes, come back in the gym, get more shots up and then be a mechanical engineer—you just scratch your head.”

Hamblin’s seemingly innate desire to keep herself busy may stem from her background of growing up in the small-town Canadian farming community of Houston, British Columbia, which has a population of 3,147.

Rueck speculated that the small-town roots have made Hamblin into the driven and exceptional worker she is today—a rarity in the generation of endless technological distractions.

“(Hamblin) grew up in a small town without a lot of distractions, so she just became a doer. She is a doer, she’s a go-getter,” Rueck said. “Our society is ‘Netflix and whatever’ and Ruth is making stuff. That’s the example that she’s given us. She’s not your typical American that’s caught up in all this non-sense.”

Tracing back to Hamblin’s roots helps explain a few things, including the time that Hamblin cooked the team a Thanksgiving dinner for fun.

 “Once, she made a complete Thanksgiving meal when it wasn’t Thanksgiving. Ruth was like ‘I just wanted to cook a turkey,’” Rueck said. “It’s stuff like that that just kind of blows your mind.”

Given Hamblin’s wide array of interests, her work ethic and time-management are not traits that are lost on her peers or superiors. This is doubly true within the Rocketry team, especially considering the demanding and time-consuming nature of building a rocket. 

“She is always running to and fro, coming into class from practice or leaving to go to practice. It’s kind of inspirational to see her work ethic,” said senior Rocketry team project manager Evan Bassford. “It’s actually incredible to see that she’s able to balance everything, and not only balance everything, but do it well. I feel bad because she’s doing all this. I could be doing more.”

Entering OSU, the subjects of aerospace and rocket science were not initially on Hamblin’s radar, but her curiosity eventually led her down the right path. Rocketry team faculty advisor and professor Dr. Nancy Squires was the one who initially convinced Hamblin to attend an AIAA meeting, and after seeing the presentation, Hamblin was hooked.

“I went, (the Rocketry team) presented, and I was like ‘Rockets, that’s kind of cool!’ From there, I’ve had an interest that I never really had before,” Hamblin said. “I‘ve always loved the idea of exploring. There’s something so awe-inspiring about galaxies and being able to actually go there.”

Today, Hamblin channels her thirst for exploration in the Rocketry team as a member of the Aerodynamics and Recovery sub-team, which is a group of mechanical and electrical engineers that focus on designing the shape of their rocket and how to recover it. For her part, Hamblin recently spearheaded a project to create a parachute for the rocket.  

“She designs the parachutes, not only designs them but sews them, too. To have that kind of technical ability and to be as creative as she is, is remarkable,” Squires said.

The added responsibilities of designing a rocket and parachute are considerable, but Hamblin has been able to make it work with her patented focus.

“I have to be super set and be very efficient with my time. It’s not easy,” Hamblin said. “I can’t waste much time or do any frivolous things, but I’ve proved it’s possible the last two terms.”

Finding challenges to overcome is nothing new for Hamblin, and sometimes her eagerness for a new hurdle to jump over makes life a little harder than it needs to be.

“She wants everything to be a challenge, so she overcomplicates certain things on the court,” Rueck said. “She wants there to be a puzzle all the time. Maybe she’s bored, (because it’s) so easy, I don’t know.”

Hamblin overcomes the challenges she puts in place for herself with drive and determination, qualities that have become a hallmark for her. Her wide-ranging success in the different areas of her life only serves as proof.

“She just produces, there’s nothing she can’t do,” Rueck said. “She’s as efficient on the court as she is in life.”

On Twitter @michaelkievaaa

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