Written by Lauren DeWitt, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -
During a college basketball game, it's not a typical sight to see a 55-year-old walking onto the court. That's the case at Emmaus Bible College in Dubuque. Paul Ruter first played for the Emmaus Eagles basketball team nearly 32 years ago. Now, he is once again a member of the team.
"He was an MVP back in the day. So yes, he is a little older, but he does bring experience," Emmaus Athletic Director Luke Wilkerson said.
Paul Ruter began attending Emmaus Bible College, which was in Oak Park, Illinois, nearly 32 years ago. He attended college while his brother took care of the family farm. Ruter was unable to finish his one year degree at the college because he was called home to take care of his family farm.
"I went back to the farm, had six kids, lived on the farm and all the while, I was thinking I want to go back and finish that one year degree," Ruter said.
Since then, Ruter always had a dream of returning to school and finishing his degree. That dream came to life when his son was recruited by Emmaus Bible College in Dubuque.
"Emmaus just seemed like a great choice because my brothers and sister went here," Paul Ruter's son, Caleb said.
"It just happened to work out that two of my other sons would stay on the farm and run the farm if I wanted to go to school," Paul Ruter said.
Paul said he talked to his son about attending Emmaus Bible College with him. He said his son was fine with it.
"I didn't believe him, but as the month went by I was like ok he is serious, sounds like fun," Caleb said.
Caleb said he knew his father would also want to play on the college's basketball team.
"I knew he was going to play basketball, it was just a given. If he is going to come to school, he is going to play basketball." Caleb said.
"Well I would never have done it if he didn't want me to go, but I was always thinking in my head if I did come back to school here, he played ball here. 'wow, that would be kind of fun to play with him,'" Paul said.
Luke Wilkerson said it is common for the college to have older students, but this is the first time he had an older student on the basketball team.
"It's common to have older students, we've never had someone on the basketball team," Wilkerson said. "I mean, I haven't heard of anything like it. I don't know how long it will be until we hear something like it again."
Wilkerson said each year the Emmaus' basketball team is different as teammates come and go. He said the school offers a one year bible certificate program, which means some students only stay on the schools basketball team for one year.
"So students come in and they might want to play basketball, but sometimes that's only for one year. So unlike other schools you don't necessarily get kids for three or four years," Wilkerson said.
Caleb is currently a sophomore at Emmaus Bible College while his father is a junior. Outside of basketball, Paul and Caleb also spend time studying together, the father and son duo aspire to become teachers.
Paul Ruter said he and his son have always had a strong relationship. But both father and son said their relationship has grown even stronger.
"I've always coached him growing up, but now it's a little bit different where he kind of has to coach me a little bit," Paul said laughing.
After basketball season, the father and son duo said they plan on playing club volleyball together.
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