NEXT GENERATION: Anthony Ruggiero a natural-born leader

There is the old axiom that “there is no I in TEAM.” Anthony Ruggiero is a prime example of that. He loves sports, especially baseball, and works his hardest to make sure the TEAM comes first. He carries that on in life by volunteering and trying to make people’s lives just a little bit better.

You love sports, especially baseball and soccer. Where did you get this love of sports?

At a young age I was taught how to swing a plastic bat by hitting a ball off a tee. I loved to be outside, so my parents and I used this time to have fun with this newly acquired game for me. Soccer was a sport in which it balances off with baseball. I am a goalie, and since I am an outfielder for baseball, they both are very similar: I can use my hands, practice my dives and enjoy the competitive experience in another way. And now, 14 years later, I’m still swinging the bat with a ball still on the tee. I like to remind myself of this, as my love for the game increases every day.

Baseball is your favorite. Why?

From a young age it always captivated me on how fair it was. The quote I picked (see bio below) explains this beautifully, by the sense that there is no mercy rule, and you cannot sit on a big lead. Every pitch can decide a game. Even if you are up by 20 runs, there is still an opportunity for you to regroup and change the momentum. Another reason is the announcing. You can follow a team, talk about all the history and enjoy yourself in a beautiful game while providing commentary that complements it perfectly.

What has playing sports taught you?

Playing sports has taught me how to manage my time with school and activities and how to be a team guy instead of a “me” guy.

Your mom says you’ll do anything you can for your team, making sure everyone stays in the game and being a real team player. Those are signs of leader. Do you consider yourself a leader?

I would consider myself a leader because I might not be the best player on some teams, but people look up to me in the sense of my heart. If we are losing by 20 runs or winning by 20 runs, I never get lazy. I still try my best to be the best I can, I do not get an attitude and throw my gear, I still run on and off the field, and I still always cheer on my teammates. I will try to work harder than anyone else so I know that I did something right that day, hoping that people follow trying to beat my effort, so it improves the team as a whole.

You also participate in many activities at school. Why do you do it and what do you get out of it?

Personally, I like having a full schedule. If I have down time, I might not use it as effectively as I should, so being more active helps me keep my focus. Some of the clubs at school keep me interested in topics going around the world, so I can see what could affect me in the near future. Another reason is for college, since they could help my application to try and get into the best college I can.

In addition to being an athlete, you love music. You’ve been playing percussion instruments since fourth grade and are a drummer in school and in church. What does music mean to you?

Music is a big stress reliever for me. Maybe I had a bad day, made an error in game, or just was not 100 percent. This is the time for my emotions to come out, so that the lyrics I listen to usually are based on my mood. Music really helps so that my actions are never phased on the field or in school, but when the time comes to be alone and reflect on my day, that can be let out so that it won’t affect me the next day and I can be the best I can be again.

Why is playing drums in the parish music ministry meaningful to you?

Playing in church is honestly more fun than playing in school band because it is a small group who is close and knows each other, and we play great music. Everyone makes you feel welcome, and we welcome people into a deeper understanding of faith by the music we play for the parishioners.

What have you learned from volunteering?

I have learned the gift of giving. I don’t expect anything in return, but when I get a “thank you” or “great job,” it helps me know that I am doing something right. And I like to try and make conversation for a few quick seconds. Maybe that person has not had the best of days, and someone interested in what they do or how they are might bring them to a better mood.

Last summer, you traveled with other teens to South Bend, Indiana, for Notre Dame University Vision. With your sports background, how cool was it to be at the home of the Fighting Irish?

It was an awesome experience. It was one of the best things and trips I have been on. From the sports side, I still practiced baseball by playing wall ball, but soccer captivated me there. There were so many people who loved it, and since there was a soccer ball, every day, in pouring rain or beautiful sunshine, we played for about an hour in a game. Just played to have fun, and by the last day, almost all the teens were watching our game, as it brought everyone together. With the faith, it brought me closer to God. I was able to have more opportunities with Him, not just with others, but one on one as well.

What does Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament mean to you?

This parish means a lot to me. This is where my whole family goes and volunteers. My grandparents work the food tent as well, and my other set of grandparents love to come to the feast every year. The people at the church are the nicest, our priest says a beautiful Mass and his (homily) is what gets people to start going to Mass. It’s nice to see the church be filled for Mass.

How has your faith shaped your young life?

Faith has given me a greater understanding of everything around me. God is always with me, and in every life there are bumps and bruises, but God is always there to pick you up, making sure you learn from your mistakes. He’s like my GPS: he has a life planned out, and I am here living it to the fullest.

If there is one thing you would want people to know about you, what would it be?

It would be that under my competitiveness, eager for excitement and love for the game, I have a strong side of faith and trying to bring good not only in my life, but in the lives of others.

ANTHONY RUGGIERO

Age: 16.

School: Whitesboro High School.

Family: My parents and a twin brother.

Things you like to do: Play baseball, soccer and just enjoy being outside.

Favorite movie: “The Benchwarmers”

Favorite TV show: “I Love Lucy.”

Favorite book: “Baseball Great” by Tim Greene.

Favorite musician: Frank Sinatra.

Favorite quote: “You can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You’ve got to throw the ball over the plate and give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game of them all.” — Earl Weaver