Deanna Brubaker graduated from EMU in 2006 with a nursing degree and worked two years at Rockingham Memorial Hospital before heading off to Denver, Colorado. She is in the Hall of Honor at Eastern Mennonite High School, where she played volleyball and basketball. (Courtesy photo)

Nurse Deanna Brubaker ’06 recharges outdoors in Colorado

Daily News-Record sports editor David Driver ’85 hosts a weekly series called “Friday Flashback,” featuring local athletes, coaches or administrators from city/county high schools. The 10th installment is on Deanna Brubaker, a 2002 graduate of Eastern Mennonite High School and member of the school’s Hall of Honor. She graduated from EMU in 2006. Her brothers Daryl ’03 and Eric ’01 and mother Alice Mae Hamilton Brubaker ’69 are all alumni.

Since leaving Harrisonburg, Deanna Brubaker has been around the world as a traveling nurse.

The graduate of Eastern Mennonite University has worked in Colorado, California, Boston, Wisconsin, Washington state and for two years in London.

Now back in Colorado since 2017, she finds herself in the midst of one of the most challenging health issues in nearly 100 years in this country with COVID-19.

“Working in Vail … we have a lot of international visitors,” she said this week, taking a break from being outdoors in Colorado. “I feel we were a little bit of a hotspot in the beginning because we had a lot of international visitors. Per capita, we were definitely a hotspot.”

Deanna Brubaker having fun in Colorado. (Courtesy photo)

“Eagle County (Colorado) was quick to shut down and try to do social distancing,” added Brubaker, 36, now a full-time staff nurse. “They tried to turn people away. Since the quarantine happened, work has been way more calm now. We are an anomaly of a place where we can shut down tourism and visitors and we are left with a relatively young and healthy population. It was dicey in the beginning.”

Brubaker, a volleyball and basketball standout at EMHS, also lives on the edge away from work at Vail Health. After putting in 12-hour shifts three days a week, Brubaker can head to the nearby Rocky Mountains for hiking and rock climbing if she wants. But she has also hiked to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and attempted a trek to the summit of Denali in Alaska. She has done ice climbing in Alaska and enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking and dirt biking.

“This girl doesn’t sit around,” according to her mother, Alice, a resident of Harrisonburg. “And besides all that, she’s just a neat gal.”

“I love the outdoors. I don’t hike as much anymore. I snowboard in the winter and bike a lot in the summer,” said Deanna Brubaker, whose three older brothers all played at least one sport at EMHS. “I play a little bit of pickup basketball here and there. It’s not as much team sports out here. It’s more individual outdoor sports. The only team sport I play now is ice hockey.”

Brubaker’s father, Dennis, taught industrial arts at EMHS before retiring and spent time in Puerto Rico and Honduras during sabbaticals; the latter is where Deanna spent her sophomore year of high school. Her mother taught at EMHS before she married Dennis.

“We have given them a wander bug,” said her mother.

Brubaker, who went to Waterman Elementary, grew up in Harrisonburg and played middle school basketball when she entered what is now Eastern Mennonite School in sixth grade. She played varsity volleyball and basketball for the Flames and in the spring dabbled with soccer, softball and tennis.

“The top memory in sports was in volleyball; we went to states,” said Brubaker, a captain in volleyball and basketball. “I think we were runner-ups in states my senior year. That was a memorable tournament. We were stronger in volleyball than basketball. Basketball is probably my first love but we were stronger in volleyball.”

After high school, she played two years of basketball at Hesston – a Mennonite-affiliated college in Kansas – then came back to the Valley to attend EMU for two years.

She played basketball as a junior for the Royals, seeing action in 26 games with three starts while averaging 13.9 minutes and 3.2 points per contest.

EMU was 16-10 overall that season, 2004-05, with a roster that included Turner Ashby graduate Amanda Renalds, Miranda White of Fort Defiance, Shantee Bryant of Staunton High, and Stephanie Mathews of Central. The head coach was Richard McElwee, a 1983 graduate of EMU and a former baseball player for the Royals.

Brubaker didn’t play basketball as a senior, focusing more on academics as she graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science as a Registered Nurse. She worked two years at Rockingham Memorial Hospital before heading off to Denver to work.

“I’m really proud of her,” said her mother.