Athlete of the Week: Michelle Ruiz

Senior psychology major Michelle Ruiz from Toronto, Canada has played on NSU’s golf team since she was a freshman. Recently, she helped the team win its second championship of the season at the Saint Leo Women’s Invitational on Oct. 16 and shot a personal best in a tournament at five-under 67.

So what brought you to NSU?

“Golf scholarship, the opportunity to play on a collegiate team, the weather and just the school. It’s a great school.”

How long have you been playing golf?

“I’ve been playing golf since I was nine years old, and I’m 22 now so that’s … 12 years.”

What got you started playing?

“My dad. My dad traveled a lot for work and I only got to see him a majority [of the time] on weekends. So, he wanted something for the whole family to do – we’re a family of four; my mom, my dad and my brother – and so he wanted to do something for all of us as a family and my uncle actually suggested golf. My dad said no, but then he was like, ‘Why not? Let’s try it.’ And then the first time I ever swung a club it was just natural. So then my dad was like, ‘You’re playing golf.’ And that’s how it started.”

Did anyone in your family have a history in golf?

“No. Nobody ever. The only reason my uncle suggested it was because he worked at a golf course. So he was like, ‘I work there, I could get you on the course for free,’ so why not try it at least once? And then the first time I went my dad was like, ‘You’re playing golf, you’re a natural.’ There’s no family history of golf at all so it was really out of the blue.”

What’s your favorite thing about playing golf?

“I just love being out on the golf course. Even if I’m practicing for three or four hours I love just being in that environment. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful, I can listen to my music. For me, it’s really relaxing and it’s like my happy place when I go there. I think that’s what I love most about it, just being outside.”

How would you describe your team’s dynamic?

“We’re very close as a team. In all the four years I’ve been here it’s been really good. There’s team chemistry; everybody gets along and we’re very open. I think it’s great. We support each other all the time because we’re there as a team and our scores count so we want to push each other to be better. But at the same time we’re very competitive within the team because it’s an individual sport and you want to win individually as well. As a team we’re really close and very supportive. We’re always practicing together, even with the men’s team. We’ve gotten a lot closer with the men’s team this year than we have in previous years.”

Do you have any unconventional training methods or odd rituals?

“Before I tee off, my warm-up is the same time, an hour and ten minutes every time, before my tee time, I’m out there warming up. Before I leave the putting green to go to the first tee, I have to make three four-footers in a row, or else I keep doing that again until I leave. I have to finish that before I go out there. If I do that and I do it well, I know I’m going to putt well that day. It’s just a thing that I’ve had since I was really young. I also only hit opposite clubs – I don’t hit every club when I warm up. I only do every other club.”

What are your plans following graduation?

“After graduation I’m going to move back home to Canada and I actually want to turn pro in golf. That’s what I want my career to be and that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life until I retire. So, next step is, over the summer I want to try and get a part-time job, but majority just train and play tournaments and get ready for LPGA [Ladies Professional Golf Association] school, which starts in August. I’m excited.”

How has your experience here at NSU been overall?

“Oh, it’s been amazing. Athletics in general, they’re really helpful. With the tutoring downstairs and study hall hours, they really help. The academic advisors always try to make it as easy schedule-wise and find the best times for you that work with your schedule. The professors here are great. My coach – we actually switched coaches halfway through. My freshman and sophomore year I had Amanda Brown and then junior and senior year we have Heather Wall, she just came in, and both coaches have been great. Amanda made it so smooth for me to come in and now Heather’s just being amazing. We’re dominating with her. It’s been really great. I’m going to miss it, definitely.”

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