The 2020 season was going great for senior defender Luis Ruiz and the Marietta boys soccer team before they had to confront the inevitable.
Ruiz remembers being at school when he first heard the announcement that all schools and athletic activities were shutting down for a two-week period because of the coronavirus pandemic. Many feared that two-week period would be extended.
At the time of the initial announcement, the Blue Devils were on track to make the state playoffs for the first time since 2017, and they were preparing for a critical Region 3AAAAAAA match at Hillgrove to be played the following day.
Marietta had already won seven games, which was more than the previous two seasons combined. It was also riding a five-game winning streak, and was tied with North Paulding for second in the region.
“I found out that we would not play for the next two weeks, and I was like, ‘OK,’” Ruiz said. “Hopefully, this could start back right away, and then I got the news that they were shutting down (the season). It bummed me out because it was my last year of soccer at the school. They told me not to give up. It’s how life is. You don’t always get what you want.”
Should Ruiz reunite with his Marietta teammates years into the future and reflect on the shortened 2020 season, they would likely talk about how the Blue Devils turned the program around in a short period.
Although that promising season was stripped away, there is still something else that Ruiz wants — a chance to play soccer at the collegiate level.
That chance is trending in his favor. He has received offers from Reinhardt and Oglethorpe. Both schools are close to home, and he said he is close to making a decision. But the decision between schools may be difficult.
“They are welcoming to the new players that they got,” Ruiz said. “That’s the good thing about them.”
Ruiz credits his dad for introducing him the sport when he was 8 and he said he loved everything about it — the kicking, the shooting, the passing and especially the defending.
It was his dad who drilled him through all the basics when he first touched the ball.
Ruiz said he loves the competitive nature of the game and noted that there was something competitive about keeping the opposition from scoring.
In the 10 games that Marietta played this season, Ruiz helped a defense that allowed only seven goals.
“This sport means everything to me,” Ruiz said. “Whenever I would feel down, this sport would always take my mind off some stuff and it would bring me back up.”