Ruth Lawanson, a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team, is entering her second season as an assistant coach for the Air Force volleyball team. Lawanson has brought a wealth of knowledge to the Falcons' program backed by experience at the collegiate, national and international levels.
Lawanson joined the Academy staff in 2008, after spending three years as the head coach at Angelo State University at the NCAA Division II level. The Rambelles produced a 19-65 record during her tenure. In addition to her coaching duties, Lawanson served as the school's Senior Woman Administrator and lectured in the Department of Kinesiology.
Prior to her time at ASU, Lawanson spent six seasons as an assistant coach at her alma mater, Fresno State, coaching the Bulldogs' outside hitters. She also served as the primary recruiter for the program. Her coaching resume also includes four years as an assistant coach and head recruiter at Purdue University.
A setter and hitter during her storied playing career, Lawanson was a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team that won the bronze medal at the Barcelona games. She spent four seasons with the U.S. National Team, including stints 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 still holds their career records for kills (962) and season records for kills (488) and services aces (55). Her senior year, 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 FSU 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 FSU. Her other FSU accolades include the 1984 Rosa Parks award and designation as the 1984-85 Female Athlete of the Year.
A member of both the Fresno 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.