LOMBARD – After helping Glenbard East to a record-setting season, Alex Ruffer will be a pioneer for the girls soccer program.
Ruffer will become the first Division I player to come out of the program when she plays for Western Michigan in the fall. The midfielder had plenty of accolades for the Rams this spring, scoring 20 goals, dishing out 22 assists, earning an Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association all-state selection and being named Glenbard East's Female Athlete of the Year.
The all-area MVP finished as the program's all-time leader in assists and second in goals.
"When we're in control she's just as happy to have her teammates scoring," Glenbard East coach Kent Overbey said. "She's a great leader. She works her butt off. She played every minute of every game when the outcome was in question. She can do it all. She's down winning headers in our six-yard box and she's making the full 90-yard sprint getting in behind [the defense] as well."
Ruffer was a key part of the development of Glenbard East's program the past four years and helped the team set new records for wins in a season (16), shutouts (14), goals scored (84) and fewest goals allowed (16). Being the program's first Division I talent is another check mark Ruffer helped knock off the list of program goals.
"I'm hoping a lot of people follow my footsteps," Ruffer said. "I don't know if it's just people think they can do it and they need someone to say you can do this. There's a bunch of girls on the team now that I think could definitely be up to that level."
The goal of playing in college was something Ruffer worked toward for years. She started playing soccer at a young age and playing year-round helped her. She was able to get noticed by collegiate coaches and put time into finding the right program for her future.
"I spent a lot of time last year and sophomore year just trying to find the right team and I definitely think I did," Ruffer said. "I'm really excited."
She's following a training schedule the Broncos sent her for the summer and heads to Kalamazoo at the beginning of August.
Her journey to college soccer has been a winding road of local leagues and club teams. She began in park district leagues and later played for Lombard Firebirds with many Glenbard East teammates and most recently played for Synergy Club.
Three years ago Ruffer was a little freshman breaking into the varsity team. The Rams have improved each year since and now as just one of three seniors on the roster, Ruffer is hoping the improvement can continue in her absence.
"We had veterans teaching me to be better," Ruffer said. "As we keep moving we keep growing.
"I think it's just a confidence level. We keep getting more wins every year. This year we had the most wins in program history. We definitely go into games more confidently. We can win every game and I think we proved it this year."
About Alex Ruffer
Jersey: No. 4