Picking an Oregon State women’s sports coach of the year this year was difficult for me, just like it was for the men’s coach.
There were some strong performances by teams that reflected good coaching. My pick eventually went to women’s basketball coach Scott Rueck.
Gymnastics coach Tanya Chaplin is always a candidate with the elite program she established, but finishing 12th in the nation is a down year for the Beavers.
Softball coach Kirk Walker did an impressive job turning around his program. The Beavers reached a regional and had a winning record for the first time since 2007.
However, it was a stunning job by Rueck, a second-year coach who accomplished more than anyone could have expected with a program that had to start over with only one returning player after players left in droves, which led to LaVonda Wagner being fired.
Rueck was impressive in his first year under the circumstances for the team to go 9-21. Then he went 20-13 with a 9-9 conference mark to tie for fifth place in the Pac-12.
The team then reached the Sweet 16 of the WNIT, and Rueck was named the Pac-12 media coach of the year.
OSU was picked to finish last in the conference this season. He had a 13-player squad that only had five players with Pac-12 experience.
Now that he’s going, more success should follow. Rueck appears to be making a mark on the recruiting trail. He’ll be able to put together top-notch athletes with his coaching savvy.