Family Dynamic: Rueschhoff sibling rivalry adds fun layer to TMP-Hays High matchup
Thomas More Prep-Marian senior Abby Rueschhoff has been playing soccer since she was 5 years old, but she normally puts away her cleats in the spring to focus on track and field.
This year, Rueschhoff had extra incentive to take on both sports in the spring.
With her older brother, Tyler Rueschhoff, coaching the Hays High girls, Abby couldn't resist the chance for a head-to-head matchup on the soccer field.
The pay-off came on Thursday when the Monarchs hosted Hays High at TMP.
"I didn't know I was going to play soccer until about a month before the season started," Abby Rueschhoff said. "Tyler was the coach the year before, but COVID ended it. I knew that I really wanted to play, just because of this game."
Tyler Rueschhoff's Indians claimed bragging rights in the sibling/crosstown rivalry, with Hays High taking a 4-0 win over the Monarchs.
But win or lose, the matchup was a blast for the Rueschhoff family.
"I was excited to play," Abby said. "Little bit of a rivalry. Which Rueschhoff is going to win? I really loved it."
"I loved it," he said. "I knew I wouldn't have heard the end of it if she would have scored on us."
It made for an interesting cheering experience for Tyler and Abby's parents, Darren and Angel Rueschhoff.
"I decided I was going to cheer for Hays High the first half and then TMP the second half," Angel Rueschhoff said. "I think I ended up cheering a little more for TMP, but they were behind.
"I has hoping TMP might get a goal, or Abby — she's been wanting to get a goal against her brother. But it was fun. I'm glad Tyler's having a really good season with the Hays High girls. It's been nice to watch Hays High and TMP both this year."
Abby Rueschhoff is headed to Cowley Community College for track next year. She's a standout in the long jump and triple jump for the Monarchs.
She acknowledged that competing in both sports in the same season has been grueling, but said it's been worth it.
"Our team, in the past, has struggled a little bit and I wanted to help them out this year," Rueschhoff said. "They've been trying to get me out for the last two years, and I thought, 'Ok, why not this year?"
She's become an expert in time management. Thursday was the first time she missed a track meet, and she's only missed three soccer games. TMP's Keira Wagstaff and Grace Pope also compete in track and field and soccer.
After missing Thursday's meet at Trego to play in the soccer game, Rueschhoff won the long jump (16-0) and placed third in the triple jump (33-9 3/4) at the Beloit Relays.
"It's been hard to juggle, but she's had a really good time," Angel Rueschhoff said.
Abby is a key player on the TMP soccer team, helping the Monarchs to a 7-5 record after TMP won just one game two years ago.
"I think Abby is a great soccer player," Tyler Rueschhoff said. "I wish track and soccer were in two different seasons, just so I could watch her more often."
TMP coach Shawn Lawson credited Abby's attitude for helping her navigate the difficult task of doing track and soccer.
Lawson noted the difference in personality between Abby and Tyler, a former standout soccer player for TMP.
"She's nothing like her brother," Lawson said. "He's pretty hard-nosed. He's a stickler for details. She's just more free-spirited, fun. ... Such a good attitude, but she's a competitor."
Tyler is the oldest of four children for Darren and Angel. Jace Rueschhoff is the second oldest, followed by Abby and Taryn Rueschhoff, an eighth grader at TMP. Taryn also competes in track and field.
"It's been keeping me busy," said Angel Rueschhoff, who helps coach the jumpers for the track and field team at TMP.
Tyler Rueschhoff has previously helped coach both the girls and boys teams with Lawson at TMP. He was named Hays High girls soccer coach in 2020, but had to wait an extra year to coach the Indians because of the pandemic.
This year, Rueschhoff has guided Hays High to a 10-2 record so far.
"That's all he thinks about is soccer," Angel Rueschhoff said. "I'm really proud of him. He loves coaching the girls."
Thursday was the Indians' ninth straight win. Katie Dinkel scored two goals for the Hays High, while Caroline Robben and Madelyn Martin also scored.
Adding to the family dynamic, Shawn Lawson was coaching against his niece, Savannah Lawson, a sophomore at Hays High.
Both coaches said Thursday's game was a day to appreciate Hays soccer.
"I want soccer in the city of Hays to be constantly growing," Tyler Rueschhoff saId. "I would love to just see two great programs out here. We don't play each other in regionals, so this is more of a friendly match in my eyes, just to celebrate as a city the sport of soccer."
"It's a testament to how good Hays soccer is," Shawn Lawson said. "We don't have like a huge program, and it's not always a popular program, but it's quality. .. There's some serious soccer talent (in Hays)."
Lawson said the Monarchs are looking to make another step forward, but he already considers it a successful season.
"I think we've exceeded expectations a lot," Lawson said. "The year before we didn't have soccer and the year before that we only won one game. If you look at the big picture, it's been a good season."
As well as the Indians have been playing, Rueschhoff said he thinks his team can reach another gear come regional time.
"I think they're starting to piece it together," he said. "By regionals, I think we're going to be a totally different team than even what we saw today."