Tommy Rutherford: How to Balance Engineering and Basketball

As the basketball season comes to an end, I had the opportunity to sit down with Tommy Rutherford. Growing up in San Diego, California, he was constantly surrounded by basketball. His mother, father, and brother have all played which influenced his liking for the sport. From playing at the Honda Center to being named team captain, this year has been especially important for Tommy. As a civil engineer major, balancing basketball and engineering has not been easy. However, with his hard work and dedication to the sport, I think it is safe to say he is on the right path to success.

How did basketball become an integrated part of your life? How old were you when you started playing?

I was about five when I started playing basketball. My mom and dad are huge basketball fans and played when they were younger. They introduced me to the sport and I loved it ever since.

What is the most rewarding part about being on the team?

Just being with the group of guys that we are with. They are like my brothers now. It is an honor to be with those guys and to work with my coaches. It’s just fun.

What are your long term goals?

I would love to play professionally. I never really thought about where I would want to play. It's just about continually getting better and hopefully someday being able to play professionally.

What was the most important game you played and why?

The Big West Championship last year so far has been the biggest game I’ve ever played. It’s the championship game of the tournament that we prepared for the whole season. Being in that atmosphere was crazy. You could feel it was a big game solely based on how crazy the fan base was. We played it at the Honda Center so thankfully there were a lot of people that are able to come.


What advice has the coach given you that you'll always remember?

One of my assistant coaches at my old high school said,  “Successful people do what unsuccessful people will not do.” I have always taken that to heart because it’s so true. You have to be willing to sacrifice time and you have to put in the effort to get to where you want to be in anything that you want to do. Not just basketball.

What is a typical day in the life like?

We usually have weights around 1pm. Then we have practice from 2-5pm. For me, I try to get treatment after like ice baths or extra stretching with our weight coach. I try to schedule classes in the morning. That's usually what my schedule is like.

What do you think you have improved this season?

I think I have improved a lot with just being able to get to the spot on the floor that I want to get on. So when I need to score for my team, I can get to the place I want so I can get the shot that I most trust in. Also, I feel like being a leader this year has improved. I was named the captain this year. I really had to step up and be a vocal leader because that's something I am not used to. I’ve always lead by example through effort instead of being vocal. I feel like I have gotten a lot better at getting guys energized and just the captain role in general.





What has basketball taught you that carries over into other areas of your life?

Well, I mean I would say time management first of all. You have to learn how to manage school and basketball. When you need to practice and get in the gym versus when you need to do school stuff. Also, just with everything you do, you have to work hard. That’s how I got here to play at the college level.

How do you stay motivated after losing a game?

When you lose, it’s a learning process. You have to see what you did wrong and what you have to improve on. You dwell on it for a night but then you move on the next day. You work to fix what happened in the past game and not let it carry over. Positive attitude moving forward, like okay we did this wrong but we are going to fix this and this and we will be fine.

If you could meet any basketball player, who would that be?

Magic Johnson or Kevin Love. If I could meet Kevin Love that would be really cool.

What is a major goal you and your team set for the season?

To be Big West Champions in the regular season and for the tournament. We want to get to the big dance, the NCAA tournament.




Favorite basketball team?

LA Lakers

Favorite actor?

Jim Carrey

Would you rather live without TV or music?

TV. I have to have music in my life.

Favorite TV show?

The Office

If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?



Many thanks to Tommy for taking part in this interview.

You can find the schedule of their remaining games here!