October 29th, 2015

Hyland's Heroes: Karen Rueff

Samantha Stallings

Staff Writer

Hyland's Heroes: Karen Rueff
From left Karen, Ella, Sam,Ben, and David / photo provided by the Rueff family

The following feature is a part of a bi-weekly series, sponsored by Hyland Insurance. "Hyland's Heroes" is a series of profiles that spotlight Louisville area Catholic volunteers, coaches and administrators who assist athletic programs and teams, and help promote excellence in all aspects of sports.

Know someone that you think should be featured as the next "Hyland's Hero”? Send your recommendation to editor@catholicsportsnet.com.

Karen Rueff was born and raised in Louisville, Ky. She attended Stivers Elementary, St. Margaret Mary and Sacred Heart. After attending U of L she married her husband David in 1994.They moved back to Louisville in 1997 after living in several different states while working for Heinz.

Karen and David have three children: Sam, a junior at Trinity, Ella, a freshman at Sacred Heart, and Ben, a sixth grader at Holy Spirit. Karen enjoys playing tennis with her family and friends

When and how did you get your start with Holy Spirit?

My husband has always been a member of Holy Spirit; he even went to grade school there.  We loved the fact that it was a neighborhood parish and joined as a couple in 1994. We sent all three of our children to school there and love being a part of such a great community.     

Who asked you to contribute or what got you involved?

In 2008 Jane Bennett asked me to help with the tennis team since her son was getting ready to graduate. I helped that year and took over the next year when my oldest was in fifth grade. Although tennis is a spring sport in the Catholic Schools, we also participate in a smaller fall league.

What sports did or do you volunteer to help and for how long?

I’m in my seventh year of coaching the tennis team for Holy Spirit. During practices in the spring my husband is one of the teaching pros, so we make it a family affair. This past year we had 56 players on the team. I also help out with the end of the year CSAA tournament that is held the second week in June.

What’s the connection with your faith and giving your time to student athletes?

For me, it has been a blessing to share my love of tennis with so many of the kids at Holy Spirit. Tennis is a sport that doesn’t have referees so teaching the children to be honest and to play fair is very important. Since the league is considered a teaching league, all fourth to eighth graders are welcomed. I enjoy working with the children and watching them develop over the years. The excitement in their faces while playing matches is such a wonderful experience. 

Who was the most influential person on your volunteer career? Why?

Most definitely, my mother, Barbara Oliver. Growing up my mom was everywhere. She volunteered at school (in the classroom and the lunchroom), church (you name it, she did it), girl scouts and boy scouts. After having a kidney transplant in 1991, she became a tireless volunteer for the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates and Second Chance, increasing awareness for organ donation. In April 2014 she realized her dream of the state of Kentucky offering a ‘Donate Life’ license plate.   

What are your major themes/principle as a volunteer?

Teaching the children good sportsmanship is my number one priority. I want them to go out there and have a great time playing but to also be fair and respectful of their opponents. Perseverance and integrity are two values my husband and I teach our own children.I want to also instill that upon the team.   

What does your role at Holy Spirit bring your family?

Our family feels that Holy Spirit is our home. To be a part of such a great community that values family, faith and service as well as offering an excellent education is so gratifying. I started teaching there 4 years ago and love being a part of the school in a new capacity. Seeing many of the kids in the classroom then on the tennis court has given me the opportunity to see them grow and develop in different areas. 

What are the fondest experiences or memories you have of your volunteer time?

My fondest experience is getting to see the children improve over five years of development. In the beginning, some of them barely know how to hold a racquet; much less play an entire match. At the end of their eighth grade year they have shown considerable improvement and have learned a sport they can play the rest of their life. 




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