WASILLA — Stacia Rustad, a former Kenai Central High School multisport standout who is now the activities director at Wasilla High School, received a special phone call recently. Craig Jung, Rustad’s head coach during her days with the Kenai girls basketball program and her mentor, had some news.
Rustad had been elected to the Alaska High School Hall of Fame.
“I am honored,” Rustad said.
But the fact that Jung was able to deliver the news made it that much better, Rustad said.
“He was an important figure to me as a young athlete,” Rustad said. “He helped me pursue my dreams of playing Division I basketball. He and I are super close.”
Jung was inducted into the Alaska High School Hall of Fame in 2012, after he was nominated by Rustad. Now Rustad is a member thanks to a nomination from Jung.
Jung has also earned his place in another hall. He is one of four who was just inducted in the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame. Jung, former Fairbanks basketball mentors Joe Tremarello and George Roderick will be inducted as coaches. Wasilla High School girls head coach Jeannie Hebert-Truax, a star at both North Pole and Monroe Catholic as a high school athlete, will be inducted as a player.
In addition to her duties as activities director, Rustad is an assistant for Hebert-Truax and the Wasilla girls. Before making the move to Wasilla High prior to the 2015-16 school year, Rustad was the head coach of the Kenai girls program for six years.
During those six years, Jung was her assistant coach. Rustad just finished her fourth season coaching alongside Hebert-Truax, a member of multiple halls of fame as both a coach and a player. Rustad said she has been fortunate to be able to spend her basketball playing and coaching career in Alaska with the two of the most respected people in the Alaska basketball community.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” Rustad said. “I am very biased when it comes to coach Jung. He was a huge part of getting me where I was as a player and a person. He’s a role model for me.”
Rustad said coaching alongside Hebert-Truax has been a great experience, allowing Rustad to learn a great deal while working with the state’s winningest high school girls basketball coach.
Rustad is one of seven athletes part of the Alaska High School Hall of Fame’s 2019 class. Chugiak’s Alev Kelter and Cody Tanner, Juneau-Douglas’ Justin Dorn, Homer’s Phil Engebretsen, Bethel’s Randy Hanson and Ninilchik’s Austin Vanderford will also be inducted on May 5 at the Lakefront Hotel in Anchorage.
Engebretsen is a former boys basketball head coach at Colony High School. His younger brother Ryan is currently the head boys basketball coach at Wasilla.
Rustad competed in basketball, cross-country running, volleyball and track and field at Kenai. Rustad, a 1992 graduate of Kenai Central, helped lead the Kards to the 1991 4A girls state title. She also earned a Region III individual title in cross-country running.
Rustad played Division I basketball at the University of Maine, where she helped the Black Bears advance to the NCAA tournament in 1995 and 1996.
Jung spent 23 years coaching girls basketball at Kenai. He was named the Region III Coach of the Year three times, and was also the state coach of the year in 1991.
Vanderford, a 2008 graduate of Ninilchik School, won a pair of state wrestling titles for the Wolverines, also competing in basketball. He also won an NAIA wrestling title for Southern Oregon University at 184 pounds in 2012 and has a successful career in mixed martial arts.
Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.