Ruth Ketcham, is a senior basketball player from Birmingham, Alabama, graduating in May with a degree in sports administration.
If you have ever been around Samford basketball, you will recognize the name. In the 2010-2011 season, she started 32 of 33 games for the Bulldogs, and currently is the second-highest scoring player on the team averaging 8.8 points per game behind her friend and roommate, Paige Anderson.
Ketcham’s coaches describe her as the “hardest working and most positive player in the program who does every aspect of the game well. She is a true team player who provides great leadership.”
Ketcham picked up basketball in second grade when she played for a church league, and fell in love with the sport. By sixth grade, she was playing on the varsity team for a homeschool team in the area.
“Growing up, I just loved basketball,” Ketcham said. “It was the only sport I really loved to play and wanted to keep playing.”
She attributes her love and passion for the game to her brother-in-law, Jay Driver.
“He married my older sister, and he was a basketball fanatic. He loved it,” Ketcham said. “I’ve always said he taught me everything I know about the game and was the person that influenced my love and passion for the game now.”
“We would stay up late at night on our court outside and play for hours. He would teach me basketball moves and he helped me understand the game.”
Ketcham thinks back to all of the memories she had learning from Jay as she grew up, which are some of her favorite basketball memories.
“There was this one time when I was young, he was teaching me how to do this move called ‘behind the back between the legs’. I did it once in a game, got past the defender and scored. I was so proud that I had done it and, when I told him, he was so excited,” she said.
Growing up, Ketcham’s dream was to play for the Auburn Tigers. And, after high school graduation from Briarwood Christian, her dream was realized. She signed with Auburn out of high school, and played there for a year.
“Growing up, I was a huge Auburn fan, and still am today. I told my dad when I was 10 years old that I wanted to play for Auburn,” Ketcham said.
“But, after my freshman year, I was going through a lot of personal struggles, and I felt that the Lord was telling me to decide between working on some things that I was going through or basketball. I decided to follow the Lord’s leading, and, after my freshman year, I was off the team. I thought I was never going to play again.”
However, God gave Ketcham another opportunity, one that she says she is continually grateful for.
“In the spring of my sophmore year,” Ketcham said, “I got in touch with Coach Morris at Samford. They had recruited me in high school and were still interested in me. God was in control of everything, and He blessed me with the opportunity to play the game I love again, at Samford. Coming here was probably the best decision I’ve made. I love Samford, and being in Birmingham has been great because I’m close to my family. Samford has been a great place for me.”
Although Ketcham transferred to Samford to play basketball, she found more while here.
“God humbled me a lot while I was here,” Ketcham said. “I’ve grown to love this place. I was so all about Auburn earlier on in my life, and now, I’m all about Samford. I love this place, and God has blessed me so much by allowing me to be a part of this university and the teams I’ve been a part of here.”
So, what has been some of the highlights of her Samford career?
“I think before this year, I would have said winning the [SoCon] tournament last year , but this year, as a senior, winning the conference and the way we played the whole conference tournament is something I’ll never forget,” Ketcham said. “When that buzzer went off and we all ran onto the court celebrating, I grabbed my fellow senior and roommate, Paige, and said ‘We did it!!’ I won’t ever forget that.”
Although Ketcham’s passion is basketball, she has other hobbies too. In her free time you’re likely to find her at Olive Garden or watching the “Princess Bride.” She can also surf, thanks to her older sister.
Although her plans are not finalized, Ketcham is looking into going to graduate school after graduation to earn a teacher’s certificate. She hopes to one day teach physical education and coach high school basketball. However, she is still looking into going back to Africa (she has already been to Kenya with “Athletes in Action”) or playing overseas.
As for now, you’ll find Ketcham with her teammates busily preparing for her second appearance in the NCAA tournament. They are set to take on No. 2 seed Duke in Nashville on Saturday.
“As a collegiate athlete, it’s a dream for every team to make it to the big dance,” she said. “To go two years in a row, especially as a senior, is very special. It’s an honor to go, knowing only 64 teams across the nation get the opportunity. It’s great for Samford and for this program.”