Jack Ruskowski knows exactly how important family is.
To him, it’s everything.
Ruskowski is a senior at Archbishop Ryan High School. The youngest of eight siblings, he’s learned a lot from all of them, all Ryan grads. His family includes Ellen, Maura, Maggie, Joe, Matt, Brendan and Jeannie.
Like him, his brothers were star football players at Ryan, and whenever he needed an assist, he could always look to his brothers for football advice. He also leaned on them as well as his sisters and parents.
“My three older brothers are always pushing me to get better, Joe, Matt and Brendan,” Ruskowski said. “My family means everything to me. Everyone in my family, my brothers, sisters, parents, my niece and nephews (Andrew, Addison, Owen, Annie and Ralphie) are always there for me. Family is so important to us. It’s always been like that. I think that comes from our parents.”
Now Ruskowski is doing his best to reciprocate.
His mom is battling cancer. And just like his mom was there for him every step of the way when he suffered a knee injury during his senior season, he’s going to be there for her as she beats cancer.
“I had faith, my mom always said faith over fear,” Ruskowski said. “She’s battling cancer, had her first chemo yesterday. She always says faith over fear, and it’s how we live.
“I’m doing my best to help, I feel like we’re all helping. My two older sisters are married, and I have a little niece and nephews, and my one sister has stepkids, they’re all helping.
“My mom loves family. Family has always been very important to us. And we’re going to get through this as a family. She’s tough. And we’re all here for her.”
He’s also supplying the family with some great news. Their days of going to West Chester to cheer on Brendan are over, but another Ruskowski will be taking his place.
Ruskowski will follow in his older brother’s footsteps and will play tackle for the Rams next year. He’s not going alone, also joining him are fellow Ryan seniors tight end McDermott Murphy and linebacker Kyle Schumann.
For Ruskowski, it’s a perfect situation.
He spent many Saturday afternoons during the past few years at games, watching his brother play.
Now, he’ll be the star on the field, playing the same position as his brother. And he’s excited that his family will be there to continue that tradition.
“So I went up on a visit (last Saturday), and I really enjoyed it,” said Ruskowski, who lives in Somerton. “My brother went there, he graduated this year, I really enjoyed the visit, I really like what they have, so I didn’t want to wait. I believe I’ll be playing left tackle. They like me there. Same position as my brother. He’s always helped me and I know he’ll be helping me in college, too.
“Going somewhere my family could watch, that was a big part of it, didn’t want to go too far, my whole family enjoyed going up, my dad would get updates from his phone every Saturday on the way to the game. We went up a lot. I loved being there, not too close, not too far. And I loved being around the football team.”
Football has always been a family thing for Ruskowski, and since he got to Ryan, it’s continued.
His uncle was offensive line coach Frank McFillin. He worked his nephew hard, and that’s another reason why he’ll be playing on Saturdays for the next few years.
“He’s a great coach, I loved playing for him,” Ruskowski said. “I definitely became a better football player. I owe a lot to the coaches, especially my uncle Frank, Rob Moore, Coach (Bill) Murphy. He came in my sophomore year, and they were great. Playing at Ryan definitely made me a better football player.”
Now that his future is set, Ruskowski isn’t taking it easy. In fact, he’s going harder than ever.
He stopped playing for the Raiders basketball team this year, instead opting to play CYO basketball for St. Christopher. With the extra time, he’s going to hit the weights hard and be ready for football.
He’s also narrowed down his major.
“I’m going to study either marketing or allied health,” Ruskowski said. “I applied for marketing, my older brother is in marketing, he loves it. And there are a lot of health workers on my mom’s side of the family. I did physical therapy this year when I got hurt this year, and I liked it. Ever since, I have thought about doing that. And I like kinesiology, that’s a possibility.”
He’ll also enjoy his time with his family before they become weekly visitors for games. He’s really looking forward to seeing them come up for a game, especially mom.
“She’s my rock, she does everything, she’s the best,” Ruskowski said. “I would be lost without her and my dad. I’m very grateful for them. She loves the tailgates up there. (Brendan) really enjoyed it up there. I’m really proud to continue the legacy.”