BETHANY, Ill. (WAND) — In the small town of Bethany, hope is in basketball.
The Okaw Valley Lady Timberwolves finished fourth in state this year — capping off a dream season.
But one player’s performance on and off the court stood out.
“She’s truly a selfless player and a selfless person,” said coach Brad Ackers.
And her teammates notice it too.
“She does all the dirty work no one else wants to do,” said senior Paige Robinson.
Hope Ruppert has the usual workload of most overachieving high school seniors. But she has an additional responsibility looming large — while standing at about her knees.
“I have given up a lot and I would give up so much more for him,” Ruppert said.
Hope’s son Ren is her guiding light. She gave birth to him when she was only a 16-year-old sophomore.
The months since then have been stressful, but they’ve given Hope a sense of maturity that belies her age.
“I could’ve been bitter,” she said. “I could’ve resented myself, resented others.”
But she didn’t.
Hope approached her new life as a mom with her trademarked optimism and tireless work ethic.
“It’s incredible to see your child strive so hard to be the best for their child,” said Hope’s mother, Jeannie Ruppert.
Hope is now sharing her story in an effort to help other girls faced with teen pregnancy.
“To any girls out there that find themselves in the same situation or have been: it’s doable,” Hope said. “It takes work and takes dedication but it is so doable and in the end, the payoff is so much more [than the struggles.]”
And with each dribble Hope shows her son and others what it means to be a parent and chase a dream — because Hope is in basketball.