AUSTINTOWN, Ohio – For many, the chance to compete in collegiate athletics at the NCAA level is an honourable accomplishment, especially for those who excel in both their schooling and designated sport. When the duo become synonymous, without ever needing to leave home, the honor can resonate deeply within one's domestic pride.
Baldwin Wallace University senior soccer player, Danny Ruple has been around the Yellow Jackets' men's soccer team for his entire life. His father, Kevin Ruple was hired as BW's sports information director in 1983 and has been deeply involved in its athletic department ever since. The decision to become a Yellow Jacket was a cinch.
"I always wanted to be closer to home so that my parents could see me play," Ruple explained. "It's always an advantage when your dad works on campus too. I felt very comfortable with the school growing up. I always had the opportunity to go to Baldwin Wallace soccer games as a kid, so it's been a dream of mine just to be here, in the position I'm in right now."
The three-year letterwinner from Berea, Ohio has racked up quite the impressive resume for the Yellow Jackets. Entering the 50th season of the BW men's soccer program, Ruple has already become their all-time leading scorer, doing so in just 57 games played. He also possesses the school's single-season points and assist record, while earning three All-Ohio Athletic Conference selections. However, when looking back at his tenure with the Yellow Jackets, Ruple is grateful for his academic accolades.
"I would say I'm most proud of being Academic All-American because it's the best of both worlds. It has the ability to showcase that I've done well in the classroom to maintain a high GPA, as well as proving my on-field accomplishments."
Ruple is only the second player in program history to earn Academic All-American honors twice. This upcoming fall season, the trailblazing forward has a strong possibility to become the sole BW men's soccer player to receive the award three times.
Head Coach, Reid Ayers is equally impressed by Ruple's capabilities on the pitch as well as in school.
"When you talk about these kinds of awards, there's typically nominees that are adequate athletes but really good students, or terrific athletes that just meet the academic criteria. Danny is exceptional in both."
Entering his 18th season at the helm of BW men's soccer, Ayers has seen a lot of players come and go, but understands and acknowledges the special talents of his team's captain.
"He is a high-level performer in the classroom. On the field, Danny is clearly one of the best players in our region, perhaps in the entire country as well. With his talent, he has the possibility to play at the next level. There's no doubt in my mind that he will leave BW with a job in hand and a lot of credit goes to his performance within the curriculum. I'm very pleased that he was recognized for the accolade."
Math and its many intricacies have always been a passion of Ruple's, even throughout high school. When the time came for him to choose a college major, a focus in accounting seemed like a viable opportunity.
"I always enjoyed math in school. I like the structure and balance of accounting as opposed to solving equations in calculus or gathering statistics, so I figured it would be the perfect fit for me."
Ruple's foresight has proven to be abundantly accurate. The Dean's List and Master's of Accounting student carries a cumulative 3.92 grade point average into his senior year at BW.
Last fall, during a school-sanctioned event that featured more than 50 accounting and finance firms, Ruple had the opportunity to network his way into the recruitment eyes of employers at Cohen & Company. Their recurring communication eventually led to Ruple getting hired by the corporation for an internship this past spring. Cohen & Company is an accounting and consulting firm that specializes in audits and tax issues, headquartered in downtown Cleveland. Pending the completion of his master's program and certified public accountant (CPA) license, Ruple has already been offered a full-time position with the same company.
While life after college seems adamantly bright for the Yellow Jackets' star forward, Ruple's work is not done yet. His sights are set on a successful 2019 campaign with his teammates, as he leads them into battle in the OAC.