Haley Rutledge is hundreds of miles away from St. Clair.
But she feels right at home at Martin Methodist College in St. Pulaski, Tennessee. Rutledge, a junior guard and St. Clair High School graduate is fitting right in at the NAIA school.
Rutledge is averaging six points per game for Martin Methodist (22-4) while playing 15 minutes per game.
“I like it a lot,” Rutledge said. “It is warm. It’s not snow. It’s only 1,000 kids on campus. It’s a very small school. My team is like my family. I miss everyone in St. Clair, but I am happy to be here.”
Rutlege has started and also come off the bench for the Red Hawks this season. She is currently the first player off the bench for the team and has gained confidence as the season has continued.
On Saturday she scored 15 points in the Red Hawks’ 52-51 victory over Brenau University. Rutledge played her first season at Jackson Community College before playing for the St. Clair County Community College women’s team last season.
“I think her experience would help any kid,” Martin Methodist coach Kyle Bent said. “She has minutes she has played on the floor. She started out for us, and now she comes off the bench and she is playing a lot of minutes. She is one of our stronger if not our strongest 3-point shooting threat we have on the team.”
“We have been able to win some good league games recently. After the break, I think the kids came back well rested mentally and physically. They are doing a really good job competing in practice and giving us an opportunity to win.”
Rutledge, meanwhile, appears to be finding a groove as the season nears a completion.
“I like coming off the bench,” Rutledge, a 5-9 shooting guard said. “I can see what’s going on. I get to relax a little bit and see what works and what doesn’t work. I have been playing a little more, and my confidence is growing.
“When I was a sophomore in high school it was really rough going 2-19. That was a hard year to swallow. It’s been great to have success ever since then. Going through all of that in high school and being able to play on three successful college programs is great. I’m fortunate to be with successful programs.”
Rutledge has decided to major in criminal justice with an emphasis on forensics. In the meantime, she hopes to continue having a positive impact on her team while enjoying the experience.
“I’ve had a lot of fun traveling and just getting to know the South,” Rutledge said. “I want to continue having fun and helping my team win. We have a good chance to win regionals and go to the NCAA Tournament.”
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jhayes1136.