Ruth Lawanson enters her third year as the head coach for the University of Nevada volleyball program and fourth as a member of the Wolf Pack coaching staff.
After one season as an assistant coach with the University of Nevada volleyball program Ruth Lawanson was named the interim head coach on Feb. 1, 2011, and after serving in that capacity for seven short months, former Athletics Director Cary Groth named her the permanent head coach on July 22, 2011. Lawanson is in charge of all aspects of the program and continues to work with the middle blockers and right side hitters.
In her first year leading the program the Pack posted a 5-21 mark and went 2-12 in the Western Athletic Conference. Two of her middle blockers earned all-conference honors as junior Janelle Batista was a second-team selection and redshirt-freshman Tessa Lea`ea was named to the freshman team. Seven members of the 2011 team earned WAC academic honors.
In year two, the Pack went 4-25 and 1-15 in the Mountain West, while Lawanson helped middle blocker Tessa Lea'ea earn all-conference honors.
In her career, she has helped coached 20 all-conference players, one all-region selection and an American Volleyball Coaches Association honorable-mention All-American. She has also helped mentor 66 academic all-conference student-athletes.
Prior to coming to Nevada she spent two seasons as an assistant coach at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
Before joining the staff at Air Force she was the head coach at NCAA II San Angelo State for three seasons where she also served as the school's Senior Woman Administrator and lectured in the Department of Kinesiology. She led the Rams to a 19-65 record during her tenure.
Lawanson was an assistant coach for six seasons at Fresno State, her alma mater. She helped guide the Bulldogs to an NCAA Tournament berth. Her coaching stints also include four years as an assistant coach and head recruiter at Purdue University.
A setter and hitter during her career she was a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team that won the bronze medal in Barcelona. She spent four seasons with the U.S. National Team, playing on the 1991 World Cup squad that earned a bronze medal in Japan and the 1990 World Championships team that won a bronze medal in China. She was also honored with the national team's 1991 Judy Bellomo Players Award and won a gold medal with the 1992 U.S. Olympic Festival West Region team.
Prior to her time on the national squad, Lawanson played with the Dallas Belles and the Minnesota Monarchs of the Major Volleyball League from 1987-89. She was the league MVP in 1988 and earned USVBA All-America honors with the national champion Chrysler Californians club team in 1989. She resumed her professional career in 1992, playing three years in Italy and France.
At the collegiate level, Lawanson was one of the greatest players in Fresno State history, becoming the first Bulldog ever to earn NCAA Division I All-America honors as a senior in 1984. She was a three-time team MVP for the Bulldogs (1982-84) and her names still appears in several categories in the Fresno State record book. As a senior in 1984, Lawanson guided the Bulldogs to a 26-13 record and a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Tournament. For her efforts she was named NorPac co-Player of the Year, first-team All-NorPac and earned All-Northwest Region honors.
At the conclusion of her stellar Fresno State playing career, Lawanson became the first female athlete in the history of Fresno State to have her jersey retired. She was also the first athlete in a sport other than football and only the fourth athlete overall to receive that honor from Fresno State. Her other Fresno State accolades include the 1984 Rosa Parks award and designation as the 1984-85 Female Athlete of the Year.
A member of both the Fresno State Athletic Hall of Fame and the Clovis West High School (Calif.) Wall of Fame, Lawanson was also named one of Fresno State's Top 25 Greatest Athletes and one of the Central Valley's Top 25 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century.
She has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Volleyball Coaches Association and continues to pass on her expertise at a number of volleyball camps and clinics around the country.
Lawanson received her bachelor's degree in business administration from Fresno State in 1987 and is currently working toward her master's degree. She and her husband, Shawn Kenan, have been married since 2002.