!Please Note!

You are using an outdated browser that may impact your experience on FCA.org.
Please upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer here or download another browser like Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.
Once you upgrade, this notice will no longer appear.

Ruthy Hebard, Chicago Sky

Published on January 15, 2021

Danielle Ripley-Burgess

The FCA publication is a gift from our FCA staff to all donors giving $50 or more annually. For more information about giving, visit here.  


This has not been the year Ruthy Hebard expected. For starters, she was at the height of her senior year at the University of Oregon and the NCAA women’s basketball leader in field goal percentage when COVID-19 canceled the remainder of her team’s season. When the protests for racial justice broke out, she experienced another wave of emotions. Yet through the ups and downs of 2020, Hebard has clung to her faith and her family, and God has continued to open doors for this first-team All-American. Selected in the first round of the WNBA Draft by the Chicago Sky, she is currently enjoying her first professional season.


Since the beginning of 2020, what have you learned about overcoming adversity?

You have to keep going, keep praying and stay positive during hard times. If you get negative, it will eat at you. Small things really matter, like smiling at someone and being a good friend. These things are really important.


What positives have you seen come out of the changes due to COVID-19?

I was with my entire family in Alaska during the WNBA Draft because of COVID-19, and so, when I found out I’d been drafted by the Sky, I was with all of them to celebrate. That was definitely a highlight of my year and something I’ll always remember and be grateful for.


You have a transracial family; you and your siblings are black and your parents are white. How has your family influenced your conversations about racial justice this year?

My brothers went to some protests in Alaska, and a teammate and I went to listen to a protest in Oregon. As a family, we’ve talked about what we’re learning and how sad it is to hear more stories of racism in our country. I’ve loved seeing how many people have put aside their differences to agree that racism is wrong. I’m blessed to have two parents who love me, fight for me and who have taught me to love everyone. My family is an example of there still being good people in the world. People may make general statements against all white people or all black people, but not all people of one racial group are racist.


What is your advice for people wanting to grow in their ability to listen and learn about race?

Come in open—keep an open mind and open heart—no matter if you’re learning from a book or another person. Even if the other person can sense you’re not aware of racism or you’ve been sheltered, if they see you genuinely want to learn, they’ll be willing to help teach you.


If others are struggling with their faith after this challenging year, what would you say to them?

In the Bible, we see what happens when someone loses faith and closes the door on Jesus. It’s not good. Remember that no matter what’s going on in your life, God is right there. God has a plan for you. He knows what’s going to happen before we know. He always has us in His hands.

Why do you think our hope and joy cannot lie solely in sports, but only in God?

A lot of things can be taken away from you, and one of those things is sports. You never know when you’ll play your last game or go to your last practice. If you don’t have anything else you’re leaning on or relying on, sports getting taken away is going to hurt a lot, and it’s going to be really difficult. Having faith, having hope and being able to have a good relationship with God is definitely something you need because you’ll know He has another plan for you if you can’t play sports anymore.

What does being a 100% athlete mean to you?

You commit 100%. Work as hard as you can. Give to teammates. Give to coaches. Give extra. Help your team and remember the bigger picture.



Written with support from Danielle Ripley-Burgess
Photo courtesy of the Chicago Sky/Stephen Gosling and Getty Images/Ned Dishman