Catching up with former Wyoming Cowgirl Taylor Rusk
LARAMIE -- In May, former Cowgirl women’s basketball student-athlete Taylor Rusk graduated with her degree in Nursing. GoWyo.com caught up with Rusk, who finished her UW career ranked 20th in program history in scoring with 1,142 points, 10th with 329 assists, seventh with 184 made 3-pointers, was tied for second all-time with 128 career games played, 19th in steals with 116, 18th with 436 made field goals and was just the fifth Cowgirl in program history with both 1,000 career points and 300 career assists.
Rusk was also a multiple-time Academic All-Mountain West and Mountain West Scholar-Athlete honoree with the Brown and Gold.
What was it like finishing up your degree, especially in a field like nursing, during this last year?
“It was frustrating at times, because we had a lot of our clinical and on-site work cancelled last fall and we did a lot of remote learning, like everyone else did. It was frustrating and I thought to myself ‘OK, how do I become a nurse?’ I’ve learned how to do this stuff, but not a lot of it was hands on learning, but every nursing student was going through the same thing. Then all of this past spring’s semester, I did my clinical rotation in Casper. It’s obviously a ton of work and a ton of hours doing your rotation and trying to finish your Capstone. Obviously you’re working a nurse’s schedule.”
Where are you going to be working at?
“I got a job in Wisconsin that I begin at the end of September. I passed my boards a couple of weeks ago, you take those after graduation. Those were a lot harder than I thought they would be, but I got through them and I only have to take those once in my career, so it was nice to get those out of the way."
How long have you wanted to be a nurse?
“I really think I decided in high school that this was something I wanted to do and was really considering. Then as I went on my recruiting trips that was what really helped me to decide to come to Wyoming. A lot of the schools I visited either didn’t have a nursing program or certainly not as strong of a program as at UW, but also a lot coaches at other schools kind of discouraged me on doing nursing, they would say how hard it was to do both that program and be a student-athlete. But at Wyoming, both sides (academics and athletics) were so willing to work with me. Both coach Joe (Legerski) and coach Gerald (Mattinson) put academics first and foremost, but they were willing to help me out and were encouraging of me to pursue the degree that I wanted to and commit to, while also playing basketball.”
How excited are you to be entering the “real world” and getting your first professional job?
“I’m really excited now. It was definitely nerve-wracking when I first graduated, especially because I had such a great college experience. I didn’t want to leave. But now that I’m a couple of months removed from graduation, I’m getting excited about it. Going somewhere new, it will be an exciting adventure. I’m looking forward to living in a new place, meeting new people and beginning new experiences.”
How much of the 2020-21 Cowgirls did you get to watch?
“I was able to go to one game this past year, one of the San Diego State games at the end of January. I was in Casper for most of the season, so it was pretty hard to be able to actually go to a game, and obviously while they weren’t letting crowds in. I tried to watch as many games as I could online and then I was able to watch their whole run at the end in the Mountain West Tournament. It was super fun and I was so happy for them. I know how hard that they work and the commitment and dedication it takes, and especially this past season, all that they had to go through with the restrictions, the testing, all of it.”
What were you feeling while watching them win the MW Tournament? Especially having played with a lot of the girls on the team the year before?
“It was special, I still knew and played with a lot of the girls on the team and it was the same whole coaching staff yet. It was awesome knowing how hard they all work and everything that both the student-athletes and coaches put into it. I knew how hard of a season it had been on all of them. All the sacrifices they made, like not being able to play in front of crowds for most of the year, the seniors not getting a Senior Night, especially at Wyoming. It’s such a special place to play at and it’s so special playing in front of the home crowd and to not get to experience Senior Night in front of our fans would be terrible. Of course, I was a little jealous, like ‘why couldn’t we have done this last year?' But no, I had so much pride and was so happy for them all, they were so fun to watch during the tournament.”
How did your time at UW and time as a student-athlete help prepare for having a life post-graduation and having a career?
“I think anyone who has been a student-athlete, you just grow so much. You gain a lot both in your leadership and communications skills and you can apply those things in a lot of career fields. Especially in nursing, because of the team environment and being able to work together and as a unit. I love medicine and the relationships that develop through that. I learned how to work with people in basketball my whole life and nurture those relationships, just like I’ll need to do while being a nurse. Also, going through the interview process, I felt more confident than I expected and felt prepared because of all of the times being interviewed by media, etc., while I was a Cowgirl.”
Last question, can you give us one last thought on your experience as a Cowgirl and going to UW?
I really couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I loved the people that I played with and for while at UW. The atmosphere here is so special. Someone actually just the other day came up and asked me about my time at Wyoming. I told them it’s so different and so unique from anywhere else. Everyone there is backing you up and supporting you. I still felt it even though I wasn’t still on the team this past season. It’s so homey and has a personal touch at Wyoming and in Laramie, I’ll always love to come back.”
* University of Wyoming press release
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