Brian Ruggles ’16, Swimming

Summer Job: Ride Operator at Cedar Point Amusement Park (Ohio)

What’s it like to work as a Roller Coaster Operator?
"Working here is incredible because very few people get to say that a 420ft coaster is literally their office. The guests make it fun too. I enjoy interacting with them and helping calm them down before the ride. Also, because I’m a coaster nerd, watching the trains launching from 0 to 120mph in under four seconds will never get old!" 

How does this job connect to your major?
"Being a physics major, I’m able to apply my knowledge to a lot of the coasters. The physics and engineering of getting a Top Thrill Dragster train over the hill (almost) every time is mind blowing. Once in a while, the trains won’t make it over the hill. Many things can cause this, such as a sudden change in weather or temperature, or even a difference in the masses of the trains. There are so many variables that go into each launch, and that definitely complicates the calculations."

What’s your favorite part about working at Cedar Point?
"I’m finally at the place I’ve been dreaming about my entire life. There are giant world record breaking coasters all around which makes for spectacular scenery and I’m able to ride them whenever I’m not working (and trust me, I do). Many of the other employees here are just as passionate about roller coasters as I am so it’s amazing to have people to talk to who share this same passion."

Erik Thornquist ’15, Men’s Soccer

Summer Internship: Software Engineer at Topia Technology

How has being an athlete influenced your work at Topia?
“I’ve learned that making mistakes is part of the game and we won’t always win. I’ve learned to push through that, learn from my mistakes, and improve so that if a new problem arises I will be able to solve it. It’s the process of understanding what went wrong and how to fix it that will help me become a better athlete as well as a better intern.”

What are some valuable takeaways that you’ve received from Topia so far?
“The mentoring that my supervisors have given me at Topia has really helped me learn. They always give me different situations that might occur or perspectives to think about when trying to solve a problem or test something. They challenge me and allow me to struggle through problems, which has not only helped me learn but has also given me the confidence that I need in order to solve similar problems in the future.”

How is this internship comparable to your work on the soccer field?
“Being on a sports team has really helped me at this internship because I am part of a team at Topia. Playing on a soccer team at PLU is very similar because we must work together to accomplish a goal when playing on the field. On the field it takes a lot of communication and unified teamwork. At Topia we must also work together using these same skills in order to accomplish our goals.”

Chris Bishop ’15, Baseball

Summer Position: Pitcher for the Corvallis Knights (West Coast League)

What do you enjoy most about this opportunity?
"I’m so grateful for the opportunity to play one more day. The number of times you get to put a jersey on and compete at a high level is limited, and knowing that has made me more and more thankful for this opportunity. My favorite part about playing in Corvallis is definitely the atmosphere and the community. We have a great deal of support at every home game averaging close to 1,000 fans per game."

What have you learned on this team that you can bring back to your PLU team?
"Playing with the Knights has really taught me to appreciate baseball for what it is and take the failures that come with the game with a grain of salt. Everybody fails in baseball, but the difference between great teams and great players is the ability to recover from those mistakes. I think the chance to watch a game everyday and observe what others do has helped me learn the most."

What’s something really unique about your team?
"Something really unique about the Knights is that we don’t usually practice at all before our first games. The first time a majority of us meet is a couple hours before the first game in the dugout. Also, the chance to meet guys from all over the country is really unique in the fact that I wouldn’t have the chance to meet a lot of these guys if it wasn’t for this league and the Knights organization."

Ariana Judson ’15, Volleyball
imageSummer Job: YMCA Camp Counselor

What’s one of your favorite things about working at the Y?
“I love that we’re not only helping the kids all day, but we basically get to be kids too. I mean, how many people can say that they get to be outside, doing art projects and playing games for their job? Day Camp also has an amazing staff and I always look forward to seeing the kids’ bright and innocent smiles.”

How has being a “Lute” helped you work with the kids? 
“As a Lute, my ability to adapt is continually developing. During my time at the Y, I have realized that this ability to adapt is essential to being a successful Day Camp Counselor. Especially when working with younger kids, you cannot always follow the schedule perfectly. In order to provide the campers with the best experience possible, you have to be able to step off the perfectly planned path and roll with whatever is thrown at you.”

What are some skills you carry over from being an athlete to a counselor?
“As an athlete, knowing the importance of teamwork and communication has helped with this position so much. Even though each counselor is in charge of their own group of kids, we are also counselors to every single kid attending. Along with that, communication is key. We all have to communicate with one another so that camp runs smoothly. We are one big team, and if we didn’t communicate or pull together and help one another when needed, then camp would not be the success that it is.” 

Rachael Nelson ‘15, Swimming
Summer Job: Intern at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
What’s one thing you look forward to everyday? 
"Seeing new experiments every day is what I most look forward to. The scientists in my lab are doing so many experiments whether they’re working with HIV, West Nile virus, or HSV so I am bound to observe something new each day." 
How does this position compare to being a member of the swim team?
"Something that I wasn’t expecting to see at Fred Hutch was the cooperation between the different scientists. Multiple researchers will help with a particular part of an experiment and it may not even be their experiment. This shows the importance of cooperation and support in a team setting. Being able to rely on and help out your teammates reinforces the family quality of our swim team. Any member of the swim team knows that their teammates are there for support or help, it’s the same at Fred Hutch."   
How has being an athlete helped you in this position?
"With swimming, I’ve learned that putting in the time and hard work is at the core of being successful. The same is true with research. On any given day when an experiment is going on, a researcher may need to be in the lab from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. to finish everything. Having learned this with swimming, I’ve been able to apply it to the research lab on difficult days, knowing that it is necessary for the best results."

Joe Rayburn ’14, Men’s Soccerimage


Summer Job: Professional Soccer Player for the Kitsap Pumas
What’s it like playing for the Kitsap Pumas? 
“It doesn’t really feel like work at all because I’m getting paid to play the sport that I love. Never have I once been given money to play a sport before and here I’m just enjoying my time with a bunch of cool guys from all over the world doing what we love to do.”
How has PLU helped you prepare you for being a pro soccer player? 
 “I would say that my student-athlete experience at PLU has helped prepare me for the soccer experience at Kitsap. I have had great coaching and player development that most keepers don’t find at the collegiate level, let alone Division III. Playing soccer at PLU has really helped me sharpen my game over the past four years so that I am able to compete with some of the best players in the region.”  
What’s one of your favorite things about playing on this team? 
“The best part about Kitsap for me is the level of competition. We are 4th division USA Professional (below the MLS) and as a result we see a lot of players who have potential to move up to the highest ranks in American soccer. There are a lot of players who have eclectic playing backgrounds too and bring unique experiences to the table.”
 Tanner Bogart ‘16, PLU Baseball


Summer Job: Assistant Coach for the Columbia River High School JV Baseball Team
What’s your favorite part about being a coach? 
"I am most excited to be around the game I love so much and give back to what made me a better player. Also, I’m excited to see how the kids do and to watch how they grow and mature in the game.” 
What makes this experience so unique?
"This job is unique because it challenges me to slow the game down and teach it rather than just play it. I take what I’ve learned and do what I can to make these kids be better than when they first started out with me."   
How has coaching helped you academically?
"This position forces me to be time oriented. I have a schedule to follow to make sure my team is prepared and ready for game day, which is like my "homework". As a coach, I also have to know who to put on the field that will help get the win."