WEST ORANGE – West Orange High School senior Rachel Ruffino has become the first female golfer in school history to receive an athletic golf scholarship at Southern New Hampshire University.
Ruffino, 18, signed her Letter of Intent on Nov. 20, guaranteeing that she will attend SNHU on a Division 2 golf scholarship. She is also an academically strong student and plans to focus on the science arena in college.
“I’m honored to be the only girl who has signed for a golf scholarship,” Ruffino said. “My family, my trainer, and my WOHS coach, Mr. (Bill) Urbanski, have helped me through the process, and without them, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now.”
Ruffino has been golfing since seventh grade. Her parents frequently golfed together and she decided to give it a try as well. The result has been nothing short of amazing: she’s placed in several tournaments, including a second-place finish in both the Basking Ridge and Essex County Country Club tournaments. Her best nine-hole score is 38 and her best 18-hole score is 77.
“I’ve always loved golf because it makes me work harder,” Ruffino said. “Golf is one of the most complicated sports, and it has always driven me to want to do better.”
Urbanski, the WOHS golf coach, was excited about Ruffino’s scholarship and talent.
“Rachel will be a four-year starter this spring and we’ll be counting on her again this year to be force at the top of our lineup,” he noted.
For all four years, Ruffino has held the number one or two spot on the team; was Second Team All-Super Essex Conference in 2013 and ranked number four in the county; and ranked number three in the county 2014-15.
“Rachel has a terrific work ethic,” lauded Urbanski. “She constantly refines her skills on the course, on the range, and in the weight room. She is a quiet leader who thrives on pressure. In the number one or two slot, she takes on the opponents’ top golfers in every match. She is always up to the challenge, and the bigger the match and the more difficult the course, the better she performs. The future is bright for Rachel – she will excel as a collegiate golfer.”
In addition to Urbanski, Ruffino has a personal golf trainer who she calls her “second dad.” Scott Rheil, a PGA strength and conditioning coach, works with Ruffino whenever she needs him. When not working with the high school golf team, she practices at an indoor driving range facility that includes a simulator, putting area, hitting nets, and work-out areas. In addition, she takes swing lessons at the facility with Coach Sam Kang.
“I’m very blessed to have had all of the opportunities over the years to improve my golf game,” said Ruffino.
“Getting the best scholarship possible was one of my goals, and being able to achieve that has really made me and my family happy. I could not have asked for a better situation, and I cannot wait for what the future brings,” she concluded.