Many often wonder…where are they now?
Well, Ameritime Sports, Resource One® and all associated companies within Ameritime’s Integrated Financial Network® are pleased to provide that information to our readers with a series of verbal portraits featuring some of the most iconic local sports names in the area. Our next installment highlights current Festus School District Superintendent, Nicki Ruess. Her background in sports is closely tied to her occupational accomplishments and has trickled down to her two children as well… but there is more to this enticing story.
Dr. Nicki Ruess, 49, is the superintendent for the Festus R-6 School District and the mother of two student athletes. Her daughter, Bailey, played high school volleyball and her son, Eric, played football and basketball through high school and committed to Murray State University this year to play outside linebacker.
Growing up in Jefferson County, Ruess was an athlete, too, having played softball, volleyball and basketball in her youth.
“Sports were always very much a part of my life,” Ruess said. “I played softball as a young girl, was a pitcher and played shortstop, and then I played volleyball and basketball in high school. I just loved being part of the team; foundationally, [sports] shaped who I was and provided friendships and the ability to learn, give and take as part of a team.”
Although she did not play college sports while attending the University of Central Missouri, Ruess’ now husband Doug played baseball for UCM, so she was still very much connected to the sporting world.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be a professional athlete, but I still loved sports and played intramurals for the comradery and for the social aspect of the game,” Ruess said. “My husband is two years older than me, and when he went to play for UCM I followed him when I graduated from high school. So, sports were very much a part of his life, too.”
Since sports and being a part of a team had played such a large role in the lives of Ruess and her husband, when they had daughter Bailey and son Eric, “obviously it became a part of theirs,” too.
Bailey, who recently passed her national board exam and is now a doctor of physical therapy, played volleyball Crystal City High School and North Saint Francis High School. She may not have the height her brother does
but she is intense, which earned her the nickname “tiny but mighty”. Bailey won many awards running track and doing hurdles in addition to her role as a setter in volleyball throughout her high school career.
“What [Bailey] lacked in height she had to compensate for with moxie,” Ruess said. “She has always been a very intense, focused person, so sports for her was a great outlet just to be able to put in the work and see the outcomes. Volleyball and track were her areas—she was a hard worker and although she was not as big as many of the other players, she excelled.”
Ruess believes that her daughter’s experiences with sports in high school are what initially drew her to physical therapy, specifically in working with other student-athletes.
“With physical therapy, the area that [Bailey] flexes towards is student-athletes,” Ruess said. “She loves to work with student-athletes. She loves the mindset and the development of their bodies and things like that. I think her foundation as an athlete participating in that, and her education about how the body works and functions, it’s just really helped her achieve her goals.”
Her son Eric, on the other hand, graduated from Festus High School in May and received a scholarship to play football at Murray State. Eric has been playing organized football “since he was five and has absolutely loved it every moment since.”
“Eric lives football, breathes football, and we just knew that was going to be his path,” Ruess said. “He’s a tremendous athlete, too, and he is such a good kid. He works hard, is so focused, and just puts in the effort, which pays off in the end.”
As a parent of two accomplished student-athletes, Ruess recognizes that the support that she and her husband offer their children makes all the difference.
“Just being there, being present, being active, being encouraging, and teaching them along the way, whether it be sports or whatever else might be happening in their lives,” Ruess said.
“You’re going to have adversity, you’re going to have times when things don’t go your way, you feel things are unfair, that kind of thing; you just have to always try to use those as teachable moments. My husband and I were always very present and involved in what [our kids] were doing, and I think that just helped give them all the tools that they needed to be successful.”
Ruess is no stranger to going the extra mile to support her children, even having taken the steps necessary to allow for her son to meet his hero: current Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan.
“When [Eric] was about ten, Matt Ryan put on a football camp in Atlanta, Georgia when he was playing for the Falcons,” Ruess said. “My husband called me and he said, let’s take a vacation and take Eric down to the Matt Ryan camp, he would love that. So, my husband called and the guy was like, oh, I’m sorry, [the camp] is for underprivileged youth of Atlanta, so there’s no registration and you can’t pay to get here.”
Unwilling to let that stop her son from meeting his hero, Ruess called the camp herself to see if there were any other options. As it turned out, if Ruess and her husband wanted to give a donation and sponsor other kids, allowing for more to attend the camp, Eric would be allowed to participate.
“We went for two years in a row; my husband and I were just on the sidelines, but Eric got to meet him and talk to him, got a signed jersey, took pictures with him,” Ruess said. “I think encouraging good role models in your kids’ lives is important. Putting good people in front of them, giving them people to look up to that are conducting themselves in an honorable way. Oh, my gosh, he still talks about it, and he’s 19 now.”
Ruess feels tremendous amounts of pride towards her children in regards to “their work ethic and their attitudes towards doing their best,” taking the time to learn from her kids every day.
“They understand the realization that they have to put in the work to get a better outcome. I’m just so proud of them for recognizing and doing that,” Ruess said. “As much support as my husband and I can give, it takes them being willing to get up at six in the morning and go to the gym, and both of my kids are very much motivated in that way. That’s commitment, and they both do that tremendously well, whether that be sports or academics or whatever they choose to pursue.”
Ruess, sharing that same commitment with her children, implements the same mindset within her role as an educator. Entering her 28th year in education, Ruess considers herself to be a learner, first, with both her biological kids and her students, teaching her new things daily.
“Honestly this sounds so cliché, but I feel like a first-year teacher every year,” Ruess said. “I think one of the things my kids teach me is not to take yourself too seriously: have fun, laugh, smile. Life is what you make it! Even in the most difficult situations, if you treat people the way you want to be treated and with respect and kindness, most of the time, they’ll reciprocate that.”
Those feelings of respect and kindness are what initially drew Ruess to Ameritime. Introduced to the Control Option mindset by the superintendent before her, Ruess has found peace of mind in knowing that her finances are taken care of, giving her more time to focus on her job and supporting her kids in their endeavors.
Learn more about the financial success and stability that Nicki has experienced through Ameritime and the Control Option® by visiting any of the helpful sites regarding the services we provide at:
Sports is an incredible journey, but life doesn’t end there. Reach out to those who know.