Ruffner spoke highly of Ackerman, not only as a coach, but also as a spiritual role model. “He is so dedicated in learning all the new systems, and training us to be the best athletes we can be. He also inspires us to be the people we can be in God’s image,” Ruffner explained. Ackerman definitely has a passion for volleyball and for God.
Aside from Ackerman, there are four other volleyball coaches who never miss a practice. According to Ruffner, the women’s volleyball coaching staff is “one of a kind.”
Each of the coaches has influenced Ruffner in some way, one of whom is Hayle Ward (affectionately known as “Gibby”). Prior to Greenville College, Ward and Ruffner played volleyball on opposing teams, and later vied for the same position on the Greenville team. However, Ward did not let the past color her view of Ruffner. “She welcomed me with open arms and really showed me what this team was about. She pushed me to be the best player I could be, and supported me on and off the court,” said Ruffner.
Not only do the coaches support the team athletically and academically, but they encourage them spiritually as well. “Any time challenges come our way as a team we always look to God first,” Ruffner said. The coaches work hard to incorporate God into the lives of the team members by both holding student-led bible study sessions and taking the team to the Dominican Republic every three years to serve God and those in need.
Being a part of Greenville College’s volleyball team has given Ruffner the opportunity to experience different backgrounds and viewpoints on life, which she says has helped her grow as a person. The biggest lesson she takes away from the team is
by Alicia Burris