Meet Ruth Hamblin. A Canadian pro basketball star, BC native, Oregon State alumni, eighteenth overall pick in the 2016 WNBA draft, a force of nature, and follower of Christ.
It is no question that Hamblin is a great athlete, but that’s not the only thing that is special about her. When asked how her faith impacts her as an athlete, Hamblin passionately shared.
“Faith and sport go hand in hand for me. Basketball wasn’t my original ‘plan’ for my life (I’m a planner) so it took a lot of courage and a leap of faith to step into the basketball world where I felt God was calling me back in high school. Since then, sport has been a tool that has shaped my faith and character more than anything. It’s brought me to the darkest valleys, where God helped me pick myself back up and gave me the strength to continue, and it’s brought me to the most amazing mountaintops of joy and elation that I didn’t know I could feel. In all those moments and everything in between, on the outside it might look like a journey of a girl who plays sports, but rather it’s been a journey of a child of God who is learning what faith means every day, and stepping out in courage trusting God has a plan and is using me to be a light in the world though this game we call basketball”.
Having just completed her fourth season overseas, Hamblin is no stranger to loneliness. She spent the majority of the year in non-English speaking countries, far from family, friends, and her community. “Playing overseas for consecutive years definitely introduces a unique type of loneliness. It’s challenging to be away from your family and friends, missing so many big events, and beautiful everyday life moments.”
Perhaps now more than ever, loneliness has become a daily reality for many of us. When asked how she copes with feelings of loneliness and isolation, Hamblin shared her strategy.
“I am very intentional about staying in touch with my inner circle. My first year overseas was a learning experience as many relationships went from being natural and easy to feel like ‘work’. Instead of writing them off because it was harder, I had to become more intentional with how I communicated with my loved ones.
“My faith plays a huge role in managing loneliness. Because the truth is, we all experience loneliness throughout our lives, whether we play overseas or not. I try to dig into that loneliness and seek God especially in times of darkness and rest in the peace that He will never leave me, no matter what. It’s not always easy to remember, but it’s an anchor that holds me steadfast throughout everything.”
And although athletes typically are not inviting to the idea of failure, Hamblin challenges us to see failure from a different perspective.
“You can’t play sports without ever failing. As much as we all would love to skip that part and just go straight to the winning, it’s inevitable, and it’s necessary. I’ve failed so many times so far in my career. I’ve been cut from teams, I’ve missed important shots, I’ve come short of goals I set. But what I’ve learned is that those moments aren’t what define me, but rather what defines me is my response to them. Am I going to quit because I failed? Am I going to back down? Play less aggressive? Or rather, am I going to pick myself up (with the Lord’s strength), remember who I am, and try again. Because at the end of the day, we’ve all failed, and we’ve all lost. What really matters is having the courage to try again, even after you’ve failed”.