Cassidy Ruk loves to be in charge.
And not just on the basketball court.
Ruk is a senior at St. Hubert High School, and this year she was the starting center on the basketball team. And when she wasn’t leading the Bambies, she was running the show at Fresh Works, a pizza and sandwich shop in the Far Northeast.
“I’m a manager there,” Ruk said. “I like it. I do everything there. I like doing everything. My favorite is working the grill. But I like doing everything. I try and know how to do everything.”
Just as she does on the court.
Ruk stands just 5 feet 8, and every inch of her is heart, which allowed her to be the team’s starting center. And she didn’t just hold her own. She was one of the top players in the Blue Division.
Ruk scored more than 12 points per game while pulling down better than 5.5 rebounds per game. And that doesn’t even account for the tough defense she played against some girls who had a few inches on her underneath.
It’s safe to say she excelled. She was named co-Most Valuable Player of the division along with Riley DeVitis, of Lansdale Catholic. Other locals who made the team include first teamer Natalie O’Neill, of Little Flower; second teamers Payton Pugh, of St. Hubert, and Mikyla Grant, of Little Flower; and third teamers Mackenzie McLaughlin and Mia Tobin, both of Hubert, and Little Flower’s Kelly Bauer. In the Red Division, Archbishop Ryan’s Tori Nigro was a member of the second team.
“I didn’t expect, really,” said Ruk, who lives in Millbrook. “I saw it online first. I called my mom and then I told people at school. I was really excited. I didn’t expect it, so it was really nice.
“I try to play and be a leader. I’m always loud, I guess, I try to keep everyone’s spirits up. But it’s not hard with this team. We all are like that.”
While Ruk is demonstrative on the court, she also does a great job leading by example. This year, that meant a nice honor for her and a great season for the Bambies.
There are players who score more than Ruk in the Blue Division, but few had a better all-around game. And while Ruk is a talented player, she credits the hard work she puts in as the biggest reason for her success.
“I try to use my strength and try to be quicker than the bigger players to help cover the bigger players,” Ruk said. “When I’m playing defense, I just try to put as much effort in as I can. That’s how you do well on defense, you have to work.”
Ruk wasn’t the only hard worker on the Bambies, and that’s why the team showed so much improvement. A year after finishing 4-18 overall, 3-10 in the Catholic League, the Bambies rebounded under coach Dave Schafer to go 14-8 overall, 8-2 in the Blue Division. Some of the improvement was due to the Catholic League breaking it down in the Blue and Red Division, and Hubert was with the other smaller schools in the Blue. But the team also showed a lot of improvement, and that was evident by the better record.
The Bambies even made the playoffs, but fell to Lansdale Catholic in a first-round game.
“It was fun to have a much better senior year,” said Ruk, who became a full-time starter late in her freshman year. “We were happy to make the playoffs. That was important to us. It was important for the seniors, but it was really important for the younger players, too, getting that experience.”
The experience was fun for Ruk, but also for her entire family. Especially her grandfather, who never misses a game.
“They all support me, but he’s always there,” Ruk said. “He usually just watches and tries to keep to himself, but sometimes he lets his opinions be known. I think I get some of that from him.”
She also owes a debt of gratitude to her sister, Jessica, who graduated last year. Ruk shadowed her before making the decision to go to Hubert, and it couldn’t have worked out better.
“I love St. Hubert’s, everything about it,” she said. “I’ll miss everything. Playing with this team. The games, I’ll miss that a lot. And I’ll really miss my coaches and all my friends. I love everything about the school, I’ll miss everything.”
Next year, Ruk will continue her education, but she’s unsure if she’ll play basketball. Right now, she’s deciding between Holy Family and Temple. If she becomes a Tiger, she will likely play, however, if she goes to Temple, she’ll focus on her school work.
Just as she is at Fresh Works and in basketball, she’ll be all business.
“I’m going to study business or accounting,” she said. “I like numbers and I like being in charge of things. I like doing it at work, it’s something I’m good at and I think it would be a good career.”