Corvallis, OR. -- KEZI sports team traveled to Corvallis to sit and speak with Oregon State women's basketball head coach Scott Rueck, and play a special game of horse.
Rueck has led the Beavers to six NCAA tournaments in a row, including at least four straight trips to at least the Sweet 16.
KEZI: "What was that it like for you growing up as the son of a coach?"
Rueck: "A dream; That was the dream, I thought anyway. Growing up in the gym, every day. It's a great place to be. My dad and the basketball program at Hillsboro high school, Coach Berry Adams, the head coach; my dad was a life long JV coach, because he liked his summers to do other things. And also liked to have his own team, but Coach Adams and my dad allowed me to be every where."
KEZI: "Was it a natural fit to where you just instantly took to the game or did it slowly progress over time?
Rueck: "From day one, I love this game. You know I was, I don't know. There's something about it. You know, it's weird being you know 5 foot 4 and loving basketball. But it started at the beginning, I know; One of my favorite pictures when I was like one or something. I was in a onesie I know that, so I was little sitting on a couch with two basketballs you know under my arms. And it's one of my favorite pictures to this day of my childhood, because it foreshadowed you know what my life would be."
KEZI: "Take me back to your playing days, what were you like as a player?"
Rueck: "I was so small you know, that what I learned was that I have to basically be perfect to be out on the court and earn time. Cause somebody that's bigger than me, they're going to get a tipped pass just by standing there, they're going to get a rebound because they're big, it's going to come to them. and so it taught me the game. If I wanted to survive in it, I had to be absolutely I mean nearly flawless."
KEZI: "You got your first coaching taste at Santiam Christian with a boy's basketball team. So what drifted you towards the women's game?
Rueck: "Yes, I volunteered to coach anything they wanted, so you can say I was a varsity assistant, but I was also there for the freshman, the JV, practices and games. So I would sit on the bench out there at Santiam for freshman, JV, and varsity as a you know 19, 20 year-old, just soaking it in not making a dime. My last year I was their JV coach and I made 450 dollars, so 4 years of time for 450 total dollars. So yes, then the women's game is all related to my little sister. And so my sister Heidi is four years younger than me in school, went to Glencoe became an all-state point guard at Glencoe, won the state championship in 1990, and then went to George Fox. And became an NAIA small college all-american at George Fox, and still till this day has all the assist records at Fox. And so after my fourth year at Santiam I got a call because they had a coaching change. the A.D. who recruited my sister stepped down and hired a friend of ours Sherri Murrell to be the women's head coach. And she called me and said hey, you want to come up and be my assistant? And I'm like wow, you know the college game? That sounds interesting. Coach my sister, her junior and senior year and so I said absolutely. So 2,000 dollars a year.
KEZI: "Skip a couple years ahead, you win a national championship. What was that feeling like, what do you remember from those days?"
Rueck: "Yes, 13 years ahead. Yes, it took me 13 years there at Fox to get a team to that level. I have a team with 10 true freshman coming in, no returning starters. And I'm like you know what, I hope we're .500 this year. I mean really, we were picked 5th in our own league that year after we had won the conference the previous three years and, or two years. And then this team just jelled. It was one of the more amazing, I mean amazing things to be apart of because it made no sense. You know and the next thing you know we're 32-0 cutting the national championship net with confetti falling on us and holding up the trophy."
KEZI: What do you feel like is the key to having a successful run that way? You said it's more than the game. It's more than just the X's and the O's on the court. What exactly goes into winning?
Rueck: "Knowing who to align with is everything. You have to have people that you can trust you know within your roster. You have to have incredible leadership within the team. That's in my opinion the number one thing."
KEZI: "Basketball is so much of your life, it takes so much of your time. It's your job, it's your life, you breathe it. But what does the game of basketball mean to you?
Rueck: "Basketball, if you think of what it's given me; I mean it's given me the most amazing experiences a person can imagine. Beyond what I could have ever imagined. It's given me an avenue to help people, most importantly. It's absolutely buried me at other times, to the point where you want to quit. But mostly I'm a teacher. So it's given me an avenue to help a lot of people realize who they are and see themselves as they truly are and what they're capable of instead of what they thought. And so, basketball in my life, it's meant everything. it's been such a blessing."
Oregon State beat Washington State in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament. They'll face Stanford in the second round on March 6th, at 8:30 p.m. The game is set to air on the Pac-12 network.