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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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BG transfer adjusts to BG life

With the Bowling Green spring football game just around the corner, Falcon football fans can prepare to cheer for their favorite players from the fall season, as well as at least one new face.

Junior tight end Ruben Ruiz gave up the sandy deserts of Yuma, Ariz. for the snowy fields of Bowling Green when he signed a national letter of intent to play football for BG in mid-December 2004.

Unlike most collegiate athletes solely responsible for attending classes, practices and games, Ruiz has the additional responsibility of being a father to his 3-year-old daughter, Isabel, who is still living in Arizona.

Being thousands of miles away from his family and adjusting to a new team and new school may seem like a plateful of frustration, but Ruiz’s journey to BG has prepared him for overcoming obstacles.

Growing up in Sonora, Mexico, Ruiz kept busy with sports and had dreams of a career in engineering.

“I was a karate guy and then I played baseball,” Ruiz said in his Spanish accent. “I always wanted to be an engineer; I always wanted to build stuff.”

Ruiz spent his first nine years in Mexico, living with his parents and five brothers, before his dreams were shattered when his father left the family and the family then moved to Arizona. Visits from his father were short and far between and Ruiz’s attempts to meet with his father later in life before he died of cancer were met with rejection.

Ruiz believes his strained relationship with his father make him a better dad himself.

“When I was a little kid, I used to always cry a lot from [losing] my dad. I used to always promise myself I was always going to treat my son or daughter better than that,” he said.

Now that Ruiz has a daughter of his own, he is learning that being a parent is not easy, but the rewards are great. He smiled and laughed when talking about being a dad.

“It’s something that I really enjoy,” Ruiz said. “It’s hard at the same time, but it has its moments and those moments are really special.”

Rebecca Steele, Ruiz’s fiancée, takes care of their daughter while he is away. Steele says Ruiz is a great father and fiancé.

“He is awesome to me and Isabel,” she said. “He is dedicated and loving and giving.”

Playing football at BG place Ruiz far from his family, which is very important to him, but playing for the Falcons is giving him the opportunity to live out his dreams.

“For me, I’m living the dream right now because I’ve always wanted to play at a Division I school,” he said. “When we were in junior college, me and my friends used to always talk about how, ‘man I just want to play in front of so many people, to be in a big program and what not and be on TV and all that.”

Ruiz is now trading his dreams of being an engineer for one of his other childhood dreams.

“Since I was little, I always wanted to do a sport and play in front of a lot of people. The funny thing is about it, every time I used to watch TV and hear the crowd, I used to get goose bumps,” he said.

To realize his football dreams, Ruiz has traveled across the country and the transition has not always been easy.

“I’m getting used to it,” he said. “I’d never been to a place where there was snow all the time. I come from the desert, I see cactus all the time.”

Being away from his family adds to the strain of the move.

“Since I’m away from my family, sometimes I need people I can talk to, which is hard because you usually lean more toward your family,” Ruiz said.

One thing that has been instrumental in Ruiz’s transition to Bowling Green is his strong faith in God, which he describes as life changing.

“Since I gave my life to God, everything has just turned around. From having bad grades to trying to go to parties, all this negative stuff changed,” Ruiz explained.

Steele agreed that Ruiz’s faith has had a great impact on both of their lives.

“I know [his faith has] totally changed his life and made him into a new person. It’s one of the things that I’m attracted to about him and it’s helped me grow in my faith,” she said.

Even his sporting endeavors have taken on new meaning.

“When I play football, I do it for God,” Ruiz said. “And I know that I have teammates, and I do it for them and my coaches because I love them, but first thing, I do it for God.”

Ruiz’s new teammates seem to love him as well and have given him a warm welcome to the BG family. Ruiz’s roommate, Nick Davis, has gotten to know him well over the last few months.

“He’s quite a character,” Davis said. “He’s like a kid in a grown-up body, full of energy. He’s the kind of person that will just brighten your day.”

No one can predict the kind of bright days that Ruiz’s future could hold, but he believes that by being in college, he is on the right track to become a father that his young daughter will grow to be proud of. He hopes to finish his degree at BGSU and seek out a career in his field.

“I would like to be a physical education teacher and a coach as well and just take that as far as I can and if something else happens that I get a tryout for the NFL or [NFL] Europe, I would love that,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz will get his first taste of a Falcon football game at the team’s inter-squad spring game this Saturday, April 16. The team has spent the last few weeks in practice for the game. The game will begin at noon at Doyt L. Perry Stadium.

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