Ruth Bieber, SGS alum class of 2021, is no stranger to the ins and outs of the volleyball court. In this installment of the Get in the Game blog series, we had the chance to speak with Ruth about her journey playing sports in middle and high school, her interest in the medical field, and the importance of teamwork for young people.
How was your experience as a student at Seattle Girls’ School?
It was pretty positive! [SGS] really gave me a place to grow as a person—academically and in leadership—and learn about myself and the world in a supportive environment. The teachers were always there for me if I needed to talk about anything. It helped that we called [teachers] by their first names, so it didn’t feel like a power dynamic relationship. Shannon, who taught math and science, was great. And my peers! My classmates, as a cohort, were all super positive.
There were some negatives, but mostly from COVID. I didn’t really get to experience my eighth-grade year how I would have liked, which I was really looking forward to. But it helped me grow, gave me a voice, and taught me how to use it.
Can you talk about playing volleyball at SGS? What was it like?
When we played, it was great to bond with the other students. I also got to know students across grades, so it helped with cross-grade bonding, which I know is something that SGS really prides itself on. Some of the team took it more seriously, and some were participating in a sport because it was fun, which gave me a good perspective. The games were exciting! It was a fun atmosphere. Every time we got a point, we would cheer—we have all these different cheers. There wasn’t really a seriousness to it.
I’m not gonna lie, it was rough not having a gym on campus. We had to carpool to a community center to play volleyball. The parents really had to work with that. We only had [the community center] for a very specific amount of time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Now that I’m playing volleyball at a high school level, we practice for two and a half hours, five days a week. Having the gym would really, really help.
You’re playing for your high school team and a club team now. Can you tell us about the transition from playing volleyball in middle school to high school?
I wanted to be able to have a good quality of play. Seeing my mom play, I remember thinking, “Okay, I want to do that. How do I get there?” I could go to clinics; I could do summer camps. I really enjoyed it, so I just kept figuring out where I could fit in time.
I've been planning JV for both years of high school. And I'm really, really enjoying my club. It's a fun group of people and my coaches are great. That makes all the difference –who your coaches are really helps create the team.
Outside of volleyball, what are you interested in?
I'm just about to finish my training for search and rescue so that I can help bandage people up to take them out of the mountains. It’s so fun and so rewarding. I'm also interested in medicine. I took psychology last semester, and I'm planning on shadowing some doctors over the summer to do some medical summer camps.
I became interested in medicine because of my mom. She went back to school to become a nurse practitioner. I helped her with flashcards for studying different drugs for pharmacology, and she had her textbooks lying around [so we’d learn about] pressure ulcers and things like that. There's this element of caring for people and learning, person-to-person connection, that I'm really drawn to. Day to day, you are constantly taking in new information about the human body, and the human body is so interesting! It's fascinating learning how different parts interact.
The SGS project where we worked with the medical board was intense. My project was on schizophrenia. I especially remember learning about the different parts of the brain. That was probably my favorite as far as the medical unit goes.
Why do you think it’s important for young people to play sports? What have you learned?
I have learned how to dedicate myself to something and feel the impact of that. You have to learn how to work with your team, understand what they are doing, and be aware of your surroundings. When I was a setter, I had to be aware of which hitters were ready to get the ball, and who would be the best fit for that ball. There's just this awareness of where people are that can also translate to understanding where people are mentally. It’s about learning how to work as a team, and as a machine.
Have you noticed any differences in how men’s and women’s sports are treated at your high school?
Occasionally, people call them “men” and “girls” sports, which is annoying. When you see the crowd for our boys’ basketball team versus our girls’ basketball team, there’s a big difference. That’s really disappointing to see because even though [the girls] are really good, there’s less of a crowd.
It would also be nice to see more female coaches. There are more male coaches than female coaches in volleyball, which is interesting. I've had great male coaches, and they have been some of my favorites, but it'd be cool to see some more women.
Do you have any advice for current middle school athletes at SGS?
If you want to put your heart into sports, go for it! Put that work in outside of practice. I know that was one of my biggest regrets: not doing the workouts to get my vertical higher for blocking or for hitting, or not setting against a wall to get my hands really good. You can have fun just chilling with your friends and learning along the way, but if you want to be serious about a sport, be serious about it.