Favorite athlete: Rob Pannell
Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles
Favorite memory competing in sports: Winning the Doug Greenfield Cup senior year in our home stadium
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: Sophomore year I walked into a team workout and everyone was watching my old parkour tutorials on YouTube
Music on your mobile device: A lot of Logic and other rap songs
Future plans: Go to college and pursue a career in bioinformatics
Words to live by: "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard"
One goal before you turn 30: Have a family and a steady job
One thing people don’t know about you:I used to be a youth clothing model
By Craig Ostroff
Pennsbury boys’ lacrosse coach Drew Artin has a very specific image that comes to mind when he thinks about Cole Ruoff on the field as a sophomore.
“Cole’s never been the biggest guy,” Artin said with a laugh. “So there he is with the big lacrosse helmet on this little body as a sophomore. Honestly, he kind of looked like a Bobblehead out there.”
However, Ruoff’s size wasn’t the only thing that stood out to Artin.
“I remember Cole got his first opportunity on varsity, and I saw him draw and dump, and not a lot of guys were doing that,” Artin said. “Cole really had the fundamentals down from the beginning. He was the guy who was doing all the little things that a lot of players neglect or lose sight of how important they are.
“And then to see how he committed to an offseason workout program, did stuff on his own time. He gotten bigger and faster and stronger and he matured as a player. Cole won’t go down as biggest attacker in Pennsbury history, but pound for pound, they don’t get much better than him.”
And while Ruoff may not be the biggest guy on the field in terms of stature, he’s always used that as motivation.
“I think people have tended to look at me with all these bigger guys around and think there’s no way this guy could do anything,” he said. “I like to prove people wrong. So I always give it 100 percent during practice, in offseason practices, running. Just because I’m smaller doesn’t mean I can’t play.”
Much has changed since Ruoff was a sophomore. As he’s grown and improved, so has the Pennsbury lacrosse team. Following a difficult 2017 season that saw the Falcons finish at 5-12 overall, a young 2018 squad—with Ruoff as a captain—improved to 9-9 overall, qualified for the District Playoffs for the first time since 2012, and appears to have laid the groundwork for a successful future for Pennsbury lacrosse.
“Overall, I think it was a great year,” Ruoff said. “We wanted to win a few more games than we did, but we really played as a team this year, our chemistry was at an all-time high. All the players on team bought into what the coaches were saying and everyone bought into the mission for this year.
“I think this year there was a great culture shift within our program. If it continues, and the team is able to keep improving, it doesn’t matter if we brought home a championship my senior year. If we set it up for the future for others to be successful, I’m okay with that.”
The leadership and examples set by Ruoff and his senior teammates will be a large factor in any future successes the Falcons may achieve. In Ruoff’s case, his unwavering work ethic and his ability to play his role on the field serve as invaluable models for returning players.
“Cole is the kind of kid who does a lot of little things that might not show up on the stat books,” Artin said. “He’s a guy who never wanted to be in the spotlight, but he did what he needed to do to help other people flourish and help the team be successful.
“If he had gone to the cage every time he touched the ball, everyone else would have done that, too. If Cole didn’t want to get after ground balls to keep plays alive or chase after shots, we wouldn’t have been as successful as we were. He has a cool head out there, he’s selfless, and he has fantastic vision.”
While there is a natural element to having such stellar on-field vision, Ruoff said he’s spent plenty of time watching film to help learn strategies and patterns.
That selflessness, however, can’t be learned. That’s something that’s ingrained.
“I’d rather pass up a good shot for a great shot,” said Ruoff, who first picked up a lacrosse stick in sixth grade. “I’d rather get an assist than a goal.
“Lacrosse is a team sport. I’d rather see a nice dodge, have a defender slide to you, and you can dish it off to the open man for a nice shot. And when you do that, it gets the team chemistry going and everyone gets involved.”
The unwavering work ethic and desire to challenge himself, both on the athletic fields and in the classroom, can’t be taught. Ruoff loaded his senior year with numerous AP and Honors classes. In addition to lacrosse, Ruoff was a member of the Pennsbury Ultimate Frisbee Team until this spring. He is a member of the Model UN Club, Red Cross Club, and the National Honor Society. In a few short months, Ruoff will take his academic challenges to the next level. He will be attending the University of Maryland and is looking at studying bioinformatics.
“I’m planning on majoring in computer science, and I’m trying to go down a track for bioinformatics,” Ruoff said. “That’s something that combines biology and computer science. I have a passion for biology, and bioinformatics is a way to combine that and since it deals a lot with medicine analysis and testing, it can help a lot of people.
“When I was looking for colleges, I was looking more for academics than athletics,” he said. “I would much rather go somewhere I could receive a great education and set myself up for the future.”
Besides, just because Ruoff won’t be playing Division I lacrosse at Maryland, that doesn’t mean his competitive lacrosse career is over. There’s still club level lacrosse at Maryland, and that may give him the opportunity to keep one of Pennsbury’s offensive duos playing together for a little longer.
“Ben Abraham is also going to Maryland,” Ruoff said. “He’s also thinking of playing club. It would definitely be cool to be teammates with my fellow captain again.”
When he’s hung up Pennsbury’s orange-and-black, Ruoff will leave a hole that will be difficult to fill. Though both coach and the soon-to-be graduate are hoping that the younger players have watched – and learned – from Ruoff’s example.
“Coaching Cole has been such a pleasure,” Artin said. “He’s a tough kid, he’s very resilient, and he knows his role and he thrives in that role. A guy with that kind of vision and selflessness helped get our offense going and was always very reliable and consistent. He’s been a tremendous player for us. Any coach would want a guy like Cole on their team.”
“I think we’ve laid the groundwork this year,” Ruoff said. “If they buy in and work hard, the next couple seasons should be great. If they learned anything from me, I hope they take that if they work hard in the offseason and in practice, they can step up and make an impact on the team. I think they’re going to be able to do it, and I’m excited to see how well this team does in the future.”