Penguins forward Bryan Rust speaks up for those who stutter

Bryan Rust sat there, waiting.

As the stampede of reporters, cameramen and interns poured into the home dressing room at PPG Paints Arena to interview members of the Pittsburgh Penguins following a 3-2 overtime win against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 27. Rust was calmly stationed at his stall, largely ignored by the initial rush.

Forwards Jake Guentzel (who scored the game-tying goal), Lars Eller (who appeared in his 1,000th career game) and defenseman Marcus Pettersson (who scored the winning goal) absorbed the opening fury of questions. Rust remained seated and eventually drew the attention of other media.

The same thing happened the night prior following a 3-2 home shootout loss to the Florida Panthers. While other teammates vacated the dressing room quickly, Rust stayed put and answered inane queries about the power play or the team’s mindset after a loss.

That’s typical fare for Rust. He’s not the face of the franchise. Sidney Crosby carries that weight. But Rust is certainly a spokesperson for the team in good times and bad.

He always speaks with authority on all matters on the ice as he makes an effort to provide interviewers with thoughtful answers.

Even if those answers aren’t always delivered with ease.

Rust is a stutterer.

And he makes absolutely no effort to hide it.

Even with a hushed repeating of an opening syllable or a more audible jumble of similar vocabulary, Rust speaks with all the brash confidence of a public address announcer at a monster truck rally.

That openness with his speech disorder led to him working with the National Association of Young People Who Stutter (the group’s name is often presented simply as “Friends.”)

Per Friends’ Web site, the group is “dedicated to providing support and education to young people who stutter, their families, and professionals.”

After seemingly every home game — with occasional exceptions due to injuries — Rust will hold meetings with children who deal with a stutter (and a parent) in a hallway adjacent to the Penguins’ dressing room.

In addition to supplying tickets to the game, Rust poses for photos, autographs merchandise and above all else, just talkes to the kids about their common trait.

“Obviously, something that’s close to my heart,” Rust said on Jan. 25 at the team’s facility in Cranberry. “Something that’s really important to me and my family. Something that might get overlooked. … It’s something that I’ve gone through and I’ve tried my best to go through that adversity and tried to get better. It’s something that for me was important because it gets overlooked.”

Rust’s self-confidence with his stutter during a 2017 television interview wasn’t overlooked by Allison Ladavat, program director with Friends who also works as a clinical instructor with Duquesne University’s stuttering clinic.

Ladavat, who is a stutterer as well, reached out to the Penguins Foundation in 2022 and got Rust involved with…

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Read More: Penguins forward Bryan Rust speaks up for those who stutter 2024-02-03 06:41:12

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