Going about her quiet life, few people may know the extent of Kathryn, or “Kay,” Rukavina’s passion for the game of softball. That passion, started at a young age, has carried the Carbon County native through high school, into community games and now to a spot in the Utah Softball Hall of Fame.
“I’ve enjoyed sports all my life,” Rukavina said. Though first introduced to the game while attending elementary school in Spring Glen, Rukavina continued to play the game throughout high school as part of an intramural team during a time when the sport wasn’t near the same as it is today.
“I think that our generation or our era of playing kind of paved the way for the kids playing now,” she explained. “We sometimes had to play in dirt fields or whatever else.”
The love of the game, though, kept this athlete going despite a lack of a facility and other comforts softball players today enjoy.
After graduating from Carbon High School in 1953, Rukavina entered the workforce and continued to spend time with her beloved bat and ball. That opportunity came with the Mitchell’s Mummies softball team, a fast pitch team created by Mitchell Mortuary and sponsored by local mortician Dick Mitchell. Started in 1949, Rukavina joined the team three years after its inception and played for the next five years.
During her time with the Mummies, Rukavina spent much of her time on the mound where she pitched for the Mummies in several games, the majority of which were outside of the area. Besides spending time on the mound, the local athlete also became familiar with playing third base and center field before ending her career in 1957.
The call to play, though, continued until Rukavina and several others resurrected the Mummies in 1980 with Dick Mitchell continuing to coach and sponsor the team.
“I was always very competitive,” Rukavina said, “but I always tried to keep sportsmanship in the game.”
The Spring Glen pitcher not only threw her way through various games and tournaments, including the Central Utah League in Provo, but also to various accolades and honors. She was named to the Castle Valley Fastpitch All-Star Team as a pitcher in 1979 and again in 1980 as well as an inducted member of the CEU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.
“It’s quite an honor,” Rukavina expressed in regards to her latest award, which took place July 8 in Salt Lake City.
Though she doesn’t know who nominated her, Rukavina remains grateful and honored that she will soon take her place in the Utah Softball Hall of Fame.
To this day, Rukavina misses the sport that had occupied such a special place in her life. She misses her time on the field and the friendships made. Her hands play a different game now, as she takes an organ class at the local senior citizen center.
Take a moment to be with her, though, and you may be amazed at what her hands have done.