Ruggles Juggles Soccer And Life
Nov. 8, 2007
AMHERST, Mass. - Katie Ruggles could be a trickster because she has two older twin brothers. Her father, Steve Ruggles explained his daughter's disposition in saying that she was always a fun-loving kid, adding that her brothers always like to play jokes on her. As much as she may love to play tricks on people, Steve Ruggles says that soccer was always his daughter's first true love.
Running up and down the left flank of the field as either a midfield or forward, a spectator would see Ruggles' small frame with a blonde braid bouncing off her shoulders, and would hear her booming voice cheering for the Minutewomen.
Ruggles, a sophomore from Lunenburg, a small town in Worcester County is the first girl from her hometown to play soccer at a Division 1 school, her father said. While in high school, she earned 12 varsity letters in basketball, track, and of course soccer.
While Ruggles comes from a family of athletes, her father credits her success to her perseverance, hard work, and her own drive to excel. She began playing when she was four years old, and continued in regular play until the age of seven or eight when she began competing with her town's travel league.
In eighth grade, it became clear to her parents that the next year, she would be starting for her high school's varsity team as a freshman. Ruggles, 19, played with older girls because of her fall birthday, and thus became used to playing at a higher level.
"Growing up I always played with the older girls, with girls a year older than me. And then the time it got tough was when [the older girls] went to high school and I had to play with the girls in my grade because I was so used to playing a level up. So I actually played with the boys when I was in eighth grade. Sometimes I wish I could have stayed in high school a year longer, but I got used to it," Ruggles said.
Coming to UMass and playing with players of different ages and different backgrounds was still a challenge for Ruggles, despite her previous experience. "It wasn't easy, it was tough in the beginning...the speed of play and knowing where you are on the field and where everyone else is. It's just a quicker game," said Ruggles. "I learned a lot from my teammates."
Amy Cheesman, a former teammate of Ruggles who played with her through middle school and high school recalled Ruggles lighthearted personality, "She was always making people laugh on our team, she was always really funny."
"I like to make people laugh. I like to laugh. I like to play jokes or do funny things. I'm trying to always laugh and stay positive and play funny jokes... I changed my friends facebook picture the other day," Ruggles said as she chuckled to herself.
In addition to being silly because of her brothers' influence, Ruggles also grew up a little faster because of them. Ruggles' father said that she stopped being a baby at nine months. "She didn't want her bottle or sippy cup, she wanted to drink out of a glass." "I've grown up with trying to be tough, and trying to be as good as them or better than them," she said. Her father admits that he and Ruggles' mother, who were high school sweethearts, are "tremendously proud and humbled" by their daughter's achievements.
Steve Ruggles also admits that his daughter is a loyal person. When she was in high school she gave up the opportunity to perform at a soccer showcase at Disney World because she would be suspended from her high school basketball team for two weeks and would not be allowed to play in the postseason if they made it that far. That year, they won the league.
"I told her soccer is your career, not basketball," her father said. Additionally, Ruggles has gone home every fall to attend some of her high school soccer team's practices and games, demonstrating her commitment to teammates.
Sydney Stoll, a fellow UMass soccer player, who also happens to be Ruggles' best friend and roommate recently broke her collarbone during a collision with the goalkeeper from Rhode Island. Ruggles is determined to help Stoll keep smiling, even though her season is over.
"I try to make her still feel like she's important and stay positive. It's just hard because she knows that she's out and she's definitely going to be missed a lot. She was an important part of our team. But she will stay positive, that's the best way to go because there's nothing you can do about it."
Ruggles, who identifies with the Tazmanian Devil, because she is "crazy, hyper, always moving or making weird noises and running around," has big goals for her team this year. She hopes that they make is to the Atlantic 10 play-offs, even hoping that they win the A-10s.
"I really like my team a lot. I think we get along great and have a good time. On the field we get to business and get the job done...I know we can make it pretty far because I've seen how good our team can play together."