A long and winding road to Tallahassee

Ruby Stauber’s road to becoming one of the best 800-meter sprinters in Florida state history has been anything but smooth. Four different colleges in five years and multiple surgeries isn’t how an athlete imagines it when they sign their letter of intent, but Stauber hasn’t just prevailed, she’s successful.

The journey began in Plymouth, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, where Stauber grew up in a highly decorated household of athletes. Her father, Robb Stauber, played college hockey for the University of Minnesota and later played for the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL. Her mother, Alison Coffey, ran under head coach Bob Braman at the University of South Florida and then switched to professional running. Her younger brother Jaxson signed a two-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks on March 24.

“There was never any pressure from them to be a great athlete. If anything, I was lucky enough to have them. They could tell about their failures and mistakes. It particularly helped me in the recruitment process when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” said Stauber.

However, Stauber’s sporting journey did not begin on the running track. It started on an ice hockey rink. Then it moved to the place where Stauber played football for several years. Then, because of her role model, Stauber tried cross country in seventh grade.

“My mother was always my role model and I just wanted to be like her,” said Stauber.

Stauber’s focus shifted exclusively to the field and the track.

“I was pretty good at football,” said Stauber with a smile. “I always thought I would play football in the fall and run at varsity in the spring.”

A serious knee injury in her sophomore year of high school put an end to her plans to continue playing soccer. Stauber decided it was time to give up the sport and put all his eggs in one basket and focus on the track. Stauber became a distinguished athlete in the state of Minnesota and eventually got the opportunity to run at LSU, where she took the SEC by storm. Stauber was named SEC Women’s Co-Outdoor Freshman of the Year but found out she had run at the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a torn labrum in her hip, which would require surgery.

Stauber’s path then took a turn. She moved to Oregon, where another hip surgery derailed her time in Eugene. Stauber then rejoined Vanderbilt, but another hip surgery and core muscle surgery kept her out of the 2019-20 season. After the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Championships, Stauber would go 1,317 days between competitions, but Stauber’s confidence in the sport and her confidence in her ability to run again never faltered.

“My mom would always ask me, ‘Are you sure you want to continue with this?’ I always wanted to continue because I had put so much into the sport,” said Stauber. “I would have regretted just giving up and walking away.”

Stauber is not one to be overwhelmed by emotions or outside noise. Not on social media, Stauber would describe himself as even-tempered.

“My parents are old school, so I got it. I think some people would call my life boring,” said Stauber. “I don’t have to have 5,000 friends and worry about what everyone else is doing. I think the more you can stay on track the better. I think part of what has made me so successful is being able to take care of myself and my body.”

Stauber returned to competition in the 2021 season at Vanderbilt and was getting closer to her old self, but a coaching change would force another change along the way. This time, the trip took her to Tallahassee and to assistant coach Matt Kane.

“The State of Florida ticked all the boxes. I wanted to have a relationship with a coach who would go above and beyond and just tell me to train, and I found that here with Coach Braman and Coach Kane. Coach Kane invests a lot in developing us as people. He cares so much about us and makes sure we’re better people when we leave the state of Florida than when we came here.”

After five long and up and down seasons, Stauber found her fit in Tallahassee. Stauber had a phenomenal indoor season for the Noles, during which she broke the school record in the 800-meter dash on her way to a second-place finish at the event at the ACC Indoor Championships. This outdoor season, Stauber currently has the best time in the ACC (2:03.54) in the 800m and is No. 5 on the FSU all-time list at the event. With just over six weeks left in the season, Stauber still has a lot to do in what she hopes to achieve when wearing garnet and gold.

“The first step is to put together two really good races in the ACC Championships. A chance to win is really exciting. I’ve spent many years watching championship meetings on TV and crying because I wasn’t there. To be back on that stage and able to compete is really exciting.”

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