2023 Students of Distinction

Hailey Ruckle overcame mental health challenges to star on the diamond

Posted on May 12th, 2023 By:

Gig Harbor Now is posting profiles of each of the Students of Distinction being honored by the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation. The students will be honored during a banquet from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Ocean5, 5268 Point Fosdick Dr.

Student: Hailey Ruckle

School: Henderson Bay High School

Category: Athletic Achievement

Hailey Ruckle never thought she’d make it this far.

She’s always been athletic and has played softball since she was seven years old, and has usually done well in school. But early in her junior year at Peninsula High School, she started struggling with mental health issues and was doing poorly academically. She switched to Henderson Bay and that made all the difference.

“I thought I’d never go to college — or even make it past 16. But, wow! Since I switched to Henderson I’ve been making A’s and B’s and I’m proud of the person I’ve become. I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve been successful,” she said. “If I hadn’t made the switch I would not be where I am today.”

Teammates as family

That success has led to a full-ride scholarship to Columbia Basin College in Tri-Cities, where she’ll catch, or possibly play center field, for the school’s fastpitch team and study to become an EMT.

Although she attends Henderson Bay, she plays ball for Peninsula and thinks of her teammates as family because “we count on each other so much.”

She earned letters in softball all four years and helped her Seahawks team win the league championship in 2022 and place fifth at the state tournament. That was probably her favorite high school experience, she said.

After college, she might continue playing ball, but her goal is to become a paramedic and work for a local fire district. She came by that goal naturally. Her grandfather worked for the South Kitsap fire department for more than 30 years, and Hailey got to “do a lot of ride-alongs with him.”

‘Believe in yourself’

Her advice to younger students on how to be successful in high school? “Fight stereotypes. Don’t ever give up on yourself. Believe in yourself and you can do just about anything you want to.”

Hailey Ruckle

GPA: 3.000

Parents: Tara and Josh Ruckle

Achievements: Attended AVID for three years and attended Leadership Class for a year; senior class representative; lettered in softball at PHS all four ears; helped her team win the league championship in 2022 and take place place at state.

Favorite teacher: “I was very fortunate and had many amazing teachers that not only helped me in school, but taught me real life skills – how to be self-aware and just become a better person in general. Jenny Buys and Emily Scheutzow have been a huge influence throughout my high school experience. I have learned more about myself than most people know about themselves. Mental health is one of the most important things.”

Best thing about HBHS: “I believe high school is about finding who you are, what makes you ‘you,’ what type of person you want to be. My high school experience is something I would never want to experience again, but also never not want to miss the people I met. My struggles and my success shaped me into the person I am today. I’m not perfect, but no one is – but striving to be a better human every day.”