The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Meet Your Neighbor

Meet your neighbor Miriam Rutzen of Blandinsville. A 2009 West Central graduate, Miriam was raised right on the Henderson-McDonough County line on the Blandinsville blacktop.

The daughter of Doug and Anita Rutzen, Miriam was born in Kingston, New York in 1990. She also had an older brother who passed away, David Rutzen, who attended Southern High School.

Miriam attended Southern Elementary and Middle School, before becoming a three sport star athlete at West Central High School 2006-2009.

During her time at Biggsville West Central, Miriam amassed numerous accolades in track, volleyball, and basketball. She also spent her freshmen year fall participating in cross country under the coaching of Pat Brokaw, a season to which she attributes many of her most pivotal character building experiences.

Pursuing her favorite sport of basketball more seriously than the others, Miriam participated in an American Youth Basketball Tour team out of Keokuk, IA, called the Hardwood Ladies, and an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team out of Bloomington, called the (Central Illini) Pizazz.

During her time with the Pizazz, Miriam was recruited to continue her basketball career. When the final decision was made, she was headed to Boston (Cambridge), Massachusetts, to play for the Harvard University Crimson.

Before starting her college career, Miriam had quite the summer: a missions trip to Atlanta, GA with the Rozetta Baptist Church youth group, meeting her birthmother and entire maternal side of her biological family in Rhinebeck, NY and traveling on a 10-day tour for basketball to Brisbane, Australia through a program called DownUnder.

Needless to say when she arrived in Cambridge, she was a bit overwhelmed.

With the support of friends and family back home, especially those from Grace Bible Church in Monmouth (her family s church) , she survived that first  D on an exam and made it through, graduating with a degree in psychology and a secondary in sociology.

During her playing career at Harvard, Miriam was named Most Improved Player (2010), Defensive Player of the Year (2011 and 2012), and Co-Captain (2013).

Playing the small forward position, Miriam received significant playing time early on and became an influential starter halfway through her sophomore year.

Her junior and senior year, Harvard became the first Ivy League women s basketball program to advance in the WNIT, losing in the second round both years.

Upon her graduation in 2013, Miriam wanted to see if she could continue to play basketball at the professional level over in Europe.

Returning home to Illinois where she helped run camps at West Central and gave private lessons through her program called  Reaching for the STARS Basketball Academy , it became apparent that her dreams of playing pro ball were not going to materialize.

She began working full time as a substitute teacher, 6th grade girls' basketball coach, and eventually as an IEP specialist at WCHS.

At the same time, Miriam became involved in a Bible-based Christian missions organization called News Release Basketball based out of Colorado.

NRB tours went over to Europe to teach Bible lessons, help run basketball camps, and then play against local competition.

In the summer of 2013 and 2014, Miriam worked to fundraise the money to travel with NRB as a coach and as a player to Croatia, Germany, and France.

Miriam continued her involvement in basketball by participating as a camp coach for the University of Colorado women s basketball team, under the direction of Head Coach Linda Lappe, graduate of Winfield-Mt. Union (fun fact: they both were named Hawkeye Player of the Year during their high school careers).

After working the camp for her third year, Miriam was presented with an opportunity to join the PAC 12 women s basketball staff as the Director of Operations.

For the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons, Miriam traveled throughout the West with the team, including a return trip home where the Buffaloes played at the University of Iowa in front of a great hometown crowd.

In March 2016, administration decided to go in a different direction with the women s basketball staff, and Miriam has taken the opportunity to enjoy the free time.

After traveling to the Northeast, a road-trip through the Deep South, hiking in the deserts and mountains, she is finally back home for the summer and hopes to spend time working on the family home and loving on family and friends.

What's next? Miriam still wants to travel& but much farther. Asia, South America, and Africa are on her bucket list for the next 12 months. So far she says everyone's response has been Now is the time do it! and always one to follow sage advice& you may just want to ask her to show you some photos if you catch her in the area!