Gardner – For a large portion of our society, football is a sport and culture unparalleled. For Gardner High Senior, Rigoberto “Rigo” Ruiz, football is, quite simply and definitely, a way of life.
Ruiz, who is 6 feet 165 pounds, has been in the Wildcats starting line-up since joining college when he was in eighth grade. He was assigned to the Mid-Wach C All-Star Team as a sophomore and junior high, and this year was his second service as team captain.
“Rego, literally, always plays soccer. You can’t drive next to a stadium in Gardner without seeing Rego there with a ball on his foot.” Dan Forte, Gardner High’s coach, who laughed when asked about the hobbies Ruiz loves, said: “He and his brothers play soccer Always always. ”Rego’s life revolves around football. Off the field that’s what he spends most of his time doing. If he doesn’t play football, he watches football. “
When Ruiz is not playing soccer or watching soccer, he plays and watches soccer while competing with family and friends while playing FIFA, which is a very popular football video game series.
“Football. Literally. That’s all I do,” said Ruiz, who also laughed when asked about his current hobbies. “I play (video games) on the side, but it’s the soccer game that I play FIFA.”
Not surprisingly, Ruiz, who has played club football in the past but is not currently a member of a soccer team, uses the video game as a tool for improvement as a player on the field.
“You have to study outside of the game as well, I think,” Ruiz said. “Football isn’t all physical, it’s mental too, so you have to study it.”
Football is, without a doubt, a family affair for the 17-year-old Ruiz, his four brothers and sister.
His older brother, 19-year-old Angel (GHS Class of 2019), played in Fitchburg State last year and plans to play in Division 1 UMass-Lowell next year. The younger brothers Ricky (15) who is a freshman at Gardner High School, age (6) and Santiago (5), is playing as well as 12-year-old Natalie, who will be on the middle school soccer team again next year.
California-born Rego Ruiz lived in Mexico for six months before returning to California. When he was five years old, he and his family moved to Gardner. He said he enjoyed being able to play Angel and Ricky as members of the Wildcats.
“We all grew up around the sport and we all love it,” said Rego Ruiz. “Everyone plays. My father (also Rigoberto Ruiz) played the game and passed it on to all of us. My father played in Mexico for several teams. He got offers to play professionally, but none of the shows were successful at all.”
Reggio Ruiz said he hopes to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Angel, go to UMass-Lowell next year and play football for River Hawks.
“I hope I do,” said Rego Ruiz. “I’d like to play with my older brother again. That is the goal now.”
Rigo Ruiz said he couldn’t think of any childhood memories that didn’t involve soccer.
He said, “As far as I can remember, we always played football and had fun.” “I love football; this is what I want to do for a living. I want to make it my profession. I want to become a professional soccer player. I just love to play the game. Since I was young it looked like I had football at my feet, I play I enjoy. “
And if Rigo Ruiz can play professionally for any team, then there is no doubt which team he will choose.
He said: “Real Madrid, without a doubt.” “I am a big fan of Real Madrid. Real Madrid has been my favorite team since I was little. My older brother loves Barcelona, so we have this rivalry. We have always grown up competing and arguing about the best team. I grew up loving Real Madrid and all of its players. I hope to play for them. one day “.
When asked about Rigo Ruiz’s influence on Wildcats, Forte couldn’t say good enough things about the player who put him everywhere on the field during his three years as head coach.
“Rego was definitely the heart of our team,” Forte said. He is a very passionate player. He is very adaptable. He definitely studies the game.
“Small school soccer coaching you have to cater to what you do from a tactical and formal point of view to the level and variety of skills you feel you have on your list,” continued Forte. “Rigo was always the first person I spoke to when I was thinking of putting in place a strategy or making changes. He has such a good knowledge of his peers in the field that he always had a really good view of what worked, what didn’t and what could work.”
Rego Ruiz said he’s disappointed not having enjoyed a big full season – Gardner canceled the final three weeks of fall athletics late last month due to the spike in COVID-19 cases in the city and surrounding communities – but he was happy there was a part of a season to participate in.
He said, “I hope there is more, more of the season.” “I worked really hard for this, but even playing for the team last year was something I have to remember.”
Looking back on his high school career, he said he has a lot of memories to tap into.
“Looking back, it was a good experience,” said Rego Ruiz. “It was great to start in college, play with and learn from my older brother, then end my career with my younger brother and try to teach him some of what I learned over the years while playing with a different team every year.
“I was hoping to win more games, but that is how it was,” said Rego Ruiz. “I’ve always been doing my best. There is some regret too, because I know I could have done more. I could have done more or more effort, but, overall, I was glad we played high school season because a lot of people just couldn’t.” So “.