Akron’s Ruhaak Stars for AFC Cleveland

For some people it takes a lifetime to figure out what it is they want to do. But for Brad Ruhaak that wasn’t exactly the case.

It didn’t take long for Ruhaak to realize that he loved playing soccer, and that, if given the opportunity, he would like to continue playing it as long as he could.

“Getting into soccer came at a very young age when I would watch my brother playing and wanted to join him,” Ruhaak said. “I always looked up to him and we grew up playing together. Playing at the collegiate level was more of a lifestyle and never really seemed to be decided at once. I enjoy playing so much and love the game, so I couldn’t ever picture seeing myself not playing. Once I realized college was a possibility, I pushed myself every day for the next few years to become a player ready for the college game.”

Ruhaak, currently a redshirt freshman defender at the University of Akron, was a prolific player before joining the Zips in 2012. He earned two all-district spots and was named captain of Copley High School twice, including helping earn a regional championship in his senior year. Copley HS has become a top soccer destination in NE Ohio thanks to the success of Josh Williams, now a defender for the Columbus Crew.

After high school Ruhaak, a native of Akron, Ohio, said joining the Zips was an easy decision for a multitude of reasons.

“There were so many things that make a player want to play for Akron. The guys on the team, the style of play, agreat coaching staff, a winning tradition, and the development of players are just a few,” Ruhaak said. “It made even more sense for me because of the mechanical engineering program that Akron offers and being close to home and my family.”

Over the summer Ruhaak spent time with National Premier Soccer League side AFC Cleveland, and played in eight of their matches during the season.

The defender said the previous success of AFC Cleveland, as well as their connections to Akron soccer, helped make the decision to join the club easy for him.

“Our coaching staff informed me of the opportunity to play for AFC Cleveland during the summer and put me in contact with their head coach, Andy Hoggarth, who is also a coach of the Akron’s women’s team,” Ruhaak said. “Choosing to join their team was an easy decision, since they had won the conference the previous year and Andy had a very positive mindset of what I could contribute to the team. It also allowed for me to stay in the area and work out with our (Akron’s) strength and conditioning staff throughout the summer months.”

Ruhaak added that his time spent with AFC Cleveland has been beneficial to his development as a player.

“Playing with AFC Cleveland helped me to stay in a college-like environment in the summer, playing with and against other collegiate players and even a few who had seen some time in the professional ranks,” Ruhaak said. “It also helped my confidence grow greatly since I was able to put in full 90 minute performances each week.”

So far at Akron, Ruhaak has played in three matches and started once, the start coming on Sept. 29 during a 1-0 victory against West Virginia.

Ruhaak said his time at Akron has been such a growing experience because of the talent of the guys around him and his opponents, despite the lack of playing time.

“My development as a player has been something that even I couldn’t have seen,” Ruhaak said. “I am a completely different player now and have learned to play as an attack-starting, high line center back. I have also met some of my best friends while being here. It truly turns into a family and my teammates are my brothers. Living with three of my best friends is a huge part of my experience.”