FOR SOME, THERE IS NOTHING WORSE THAN THAT ANNOYING PHONE ALARM.
For MacArthur's Jasmine Rutledge, she lives by it. The junior plays volleyball, runs track, is in Business Professionals of America Club and ranks in the Top 10 percent of her class. "It's a lot, but I take it one day at a time," Rutledge said. "I'll do schoolwork for a certain amount of time, then I'll do sports. It's all based on time management. I set a lot of alarms on my phone, which keeps me on track."
But it's always been like this for Jasmine. "I've always been around sports and academics my whole life," she laughed. "My brother played basketball and now runs track at Alcorn State. My mom played volleyball and ran track at Polk State. I also come from a family full of doctors, lawyers and educators. "With my mom teaching at MacArthur, I've been around the volleyball program for as long as I can remember," she said. "I was always around the girls when I was tiny and just loved it. I started playing in the seventh grade."
Two years later, her game was good enough to start on varsity as a setter. "My freshman year was really scary," she said. "It was my third year of playing the game and the older girls just had so much experience. They were good to me and I got to know them very well. They made it a comfortable transition."
Last year, her play improved as she got more seasoning on the court resulting in an all-district nod. The Lady Generals reached the postseason but fell to state power Klein in the first round. Rutledge also made varsity track and reached the Regional Meet in the shot put and discus.
Entering her junior season, Rutledge has moved positions to the outside, which is benefitting her team greatly. "The change has been fun," she said. "I do miss setting a little, but I still get to pass a little bit. As a setter, you let other people shine. As an outside, you can do some real damage and score some points." Rutledge is the team's top kill leader to date. "We are definitely a playoff team," she said. "We just need to believe in ourselves. We really have a lot of potential."
Off the court, Rutledge's future is equally as bright. She has aspirations of being an orthopedic surgeon. "I can handle the blood and all that if I know the patient is going to be alright," she said. "I just like to help people." With all of her success, surely, she has some help. "My mom (Mya) and I have a very strong bond," she said. "She helps when I need it, from schoolwork to volleyball. If she doesn't know how to solve a problem, she knows someone who does.
THE MACARTHUR LADY GENERALS FINISHED THIRD LAST YEAR IN DISTRICT PLAY AND REACHED THE POSTSEASON AGAIN.
But they want more. "These are unprecedented times we have this season and we were a little behind with our chemistry early on, but our goal remains to win district," middle Laila Holmes said.
Coach Linda Eastman returns some serious talent from last season, but also picked up a big-time move-in over the summer. All-district setter Jasmine Rutledge is back in the fold, but has moved to the outside, providing more offensive firepower for Big Mac.
The reason? Sophomore Emeli Muagututi'a has moved in from California to take over the setter role and Rutledge has become the team's leading kill artist. "I'm so excited to be here and I feel like I can bring the team together through communication," Muagututi'a said. "I'll do whatever it takes for this team to win."
According to hitter Aaliya Gallaway, another secret ingredient is simple. "Last season, we started off rocky but ended pretty strong," Gallaway said. "For us to take that next step, we have to be more consistent. We have to finish games and not take any points off."
Also, in the mix are defensive specialist Lorena Gomez and outside Wyllo Gayle, who play vital roles for MacArthur. Gayle also stars for the district power General softball team. With balance and consistency, the sky is the limit for the Lady Gens in District 14-6A.