By Olivia Nicoletti
Senior track and field and cross-country runner Scott Ruskan took a step toward life after Rider when he was sworn into the U.S. Coast Guard on Veteran’s Day.
His dream in high school was to attend college and run for their track team, but in the back of his mind, he always had an appreciation for people who served the country. After interning last spring at EisnerAmper, an accounting firm in Pennington, New Jersey, he visualized his future. As he was approaching graduation, serving was still a prominent goal for him.
“Enlisting in the Coast Guard is something that you don’t have to do out of college, you can do it right out of high school. However, I am so thankful I went to Rider first,” Ruskan said. “Without the opportunities and without the experiences I had here I don’t know if I’d be where I am today.”
Within the past week, Ruskan took the initial oath of enlistment to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard. He commended Master Chief Mike Rosati for his mentorship and his own time served as Command Master Chief in the U.S. Coast Guard. Rosati put Ruskan in touch with the right people and opened the door of opportunities for him.
We are honored that senior Scott Ruskan chose to host his enlistment ceremony for the U.S. Coast Guard on campus this week. https://t.co/PCL6sFTDE6— Rider University (@RiderUniversity) November 13, 2020
“Scott is very well-rounded and he has done well academically. That being said, he is well suited for the job because he is teamwork-oriented and he has a clear idea of what he wants to do professionally in the service,” Rosati said. “Scott is considerate and thoughtful and the U.S. Coast Guard matches his core values well.”
Ruskan was overwhelmed with the amount of support he got when he was sworn in, he was surrounded by family, friends, professors and classmates. Fellow teammates and juniors James Green and Brian Spolarich were two of many who came to witness the big day.
“At the ceremony, it was very heartwarming because if you know Scott you know he is a very selfless person and he is going to do whatever it takes to make sure he puts everybody else before he puts himself,” Green said. “It made my heart feel good and I felt it was a really good choice for him. Scott is one of those people who would do well with anything, I knew whatever he chose to do in his future he was going to excel in it.”
Spolarich said, “We grew up together and we’ve been friends for a while so I’m proud of him. This is something that he’s very passionate about so I’m happy because he’s happy. I’m excited to see how well he does, Scott’s a hard-working kid so if he puts his mind to something he can do it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up serving more than he has to just out of pure joy.”
Although the track team is settling with the loss of a great leader after his last year running, his future is undeniably bright. Bob Hamer, the head track and cross country coach, recognizes that Ruskan has overcome some adversity and obstacles regarding injury, however, he has made himself into something great.
“It fills me with a sense of pride that Scott is willing to go out there and serve the country. He’s willing to sacrifice for the rest of us so that we can continue to do what we love every day. I hope I’ve been a little bit of assistance and been a help to him along the way,” Hamer said. “Scott has really given us more than we’ve given him and I think that’s probably what led him down this path to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard.”
Beginning his track and cross country career in eighth grade, Ruskan has a major passion for running. He has been an athlete on both teams for all four years at Rider. Ruskan’s cousins ran at Bridgewater High School and into their college years, which was a major influence for him to get involved with the sport.
“When I began running in middle school I instantly enjoyed it and that led me to do it throughout high school. I was lucky enough to have really good teammates and a solid coaching staff that got me to where I am today,” Ruskan said. “One of my favorite things about track is the team atmosphere but my overall favorite part is competing, just being able to compete against other people and being able to better myself every day.”
At the last indoor season of the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A), Ruskan and his teammates set a school record.
“This one was so special to me because I was able to do it with my teammates in a relay situation,” Ruskan said. “My coach was able to set up a really solid relay for us and he got the ball rolling. We all put out our best efforts and did our parts that day.”
Hamer is one of the main reasons that Ruskan chose Rider. Hamer’s love for the sport and his care for his athletes is what sold Ruskan to run for him.
“As for myself, I wasn’t a star level recruit coming in, I was above average but I wasn’t anything that special. Coach Hamer took a chance on me and gave me the opportunities to run,” Ruskan said. “The best thing about coach Hamer is that he really develops athletes not just on the track but, personally, he developed me into the person I am today.”
Hamer emphasized, that Ruskan stood out to him at recruitment due to his desire to be part of the team.
“Scott had a lot of the qualities and characteristics that we look for in an athlete; he was dedicated and committed,” Hamer said. “What has impressed me the most about him is his ability to be a team player. He really loves Rider, he really loves his teammates and he’s willing to do anything he can to help the team succeed. He would sacrifice his own individual successes so that he can have success as a team.”
Ruskan believes the most essential lesson he learned from Rider is his ability to work with others.
When he was a freshman, he helped create the investments club and now has earned the position of president. Even as the head leader of the club, he still is a firm believer in the process of teamwork.
“The key thing is that no matter what you do in life you’re always a part of a team, no one ever does anything alone,” Ruskan said. “As much as people like to say they do, someone always helps you get there. Being able to work together with others is an essential part of life.”
Spolarich sees these qualities and how they effect Ruskan’s reltionships.
“People gravitate towards Scott because of the energy he has and the way he conducts himself,” Spolarich said. “He’s a good leader and he’s always cheering people on with words of encouragement.”
Ruskan’s time at Rider has set him up for success in the future. With the opportunities presented to him through athletics, he has had the chance to be a leader and a teammate. He can start his career in the U.S. Coast Guard knowing he put in a lot of hard work at Rider and made great memories while doing so.