Crystal Ruland is a model going places, but where she's headed just might come as a surprise to anyone who sets eyes upon her.
Ruland is a recently turned 21-year-old beauty from Chiefland, Fla. In high school, she was a star second baseman and catcher for two-time state champion Clay High. She had scholarship offers to continue playing in college, but instead of turning heads and double plays at a university, her dream was to join the military of all things.
However, instead of following that desire straight out of high school, Ruland decided to become a licensed insurance agent for her godmother's company in Orlando. Upon her arrival, and at her godmother's urging, she decided to give modeling a shot in her free time, so she began developing a portfolio by working with local photographers that she met through the Web site One Model Place.
Soon thereafter, Ruland was signing a two-year exclusive contract with BMG Models, an agency out of Orlando. It was a decision that Ruland would grow to regret. Shortly after signing, BMG began pressing Ruland to go International and accept a two-month assignment in Japan. Weighing her options, she decided against the move.
"I never went because I was too chicken," she recalls. "It was a difficult decision for me, simply because you never know what might have happened."
Last August, BMG released Ruland from her contract early, but she's been busy ever since.
"Ever since then, I've been able to do so much work on my own," she says. "I've actually worked more now that I'm out on my own. I tell all my friends who are just getting into modeling, whatever you do, do not sign an exclusive contract with an agency unless it's a bigger name agency."
Ruland's many accomplishments include work for such brands as Harley Davidson, Hurley and Seventeen magazine. But while her modeling career is seemingly on the rise, Ruland is just days away from following her original intentions as she prepares for her first days in the Army.
"I don't know," she explains. "I just woke up one day and decided that I was going to go into the military. I'm excited to go."
Ruland comes from a family that believes in helping others. One of her grandfathers was a ranger for the Army, while the other was a member of the Air Force. Her uncle was a Marine, and her female cousins, both her age, are in the military now.
"Everybody is military, law enforcement or firefighters in my family," says Ruland, whose initial training will last 17 weeks in Missouri. "Obviously, I want to serve my country as well."