After fielding interest from several Division 1 programs, including Cornell, Yale, Harvard, Holy Cross, and Mercyhurst,15-year old prospect Abby Ruggiero of the Buffalo Regals announced via Twitter that she had made her decision to play NCAA Division 1 college hockey at Cornell University for the 2020 season.
Inspired by older sister Emma (Buffalo State ‘19), Ruggiero began skating for her local youth program at age four making the move to the Buffalo Regals at age eight. She credits the program, as well as coaches Matt Miller and Tom Ruggiero (father) with developing her both as a player and person.
Neutral Zone most recently evaluated Ruggiero at the USA Hockey U14 Nationals. NZ had a chance to catch up with Ruggiero and get an inside look into her college recruiting process:
1) Before your commitment, was your dream to play Division 1 college hockey? Did you also dream of playing at an Ivy League school?
Before my commitment, I did dream of going Division 1 and playing some type of sport in college. I did of course dream of playing hockey at an Ivy League College, but never thought I would have the opportunity go play at one. After going through this process, I felt Cornell was my dream school because it is as good as any school academically, it has always been a highly ranked D1 program, I loved the campus and it is close to home. It is just an amazing school over all.
2) There is some misunderstanding with early recruiting amongst the hockey community. Being a player who went through it, give us an idea of what this looks like for you?
I believe the coaches from these Division 1 schools have to do what they have to do. Scouting players this early is okay by me because I understand coaches have to plan for the future.
3) What was the time frame from the point you heard from your first college coach, to the point where you felt confident to make your decision. For some players, it is a matter of weeks, and for others, it can take over a year.
It started for me in September and it went through March. I liked many things I heard and read about all the schools that showed an interest in me, but I just loved everything I saw and learned about Cornell. To me I felt it was the right move both academically and with regards to hockey. Having the opportunity to commit now takes a lot of stress off and helps me focus even more on my studies and hockey.
4) What went into your decision to choose Cornell? How did you eliminate other options? What attributes in a college did you and your family find valuable?
In making my decision I thought; “Where do I see myself in 4 years?” My family wanted to make sure that I was going to be happy, safe, and that I would get all the help I need with both school and hockey.
5)What advice do you have for other players who are going through the recruiting process now, or will be soon?
The advice I have for the others going through any recruiting process is to make sure you can see yourself being happy and doing well at the college. Do not worry about the scouts at your game. If you worry about them then you are not paying attention to your performance. If you know what you want and you are sure about it, do not let someone tell you which school is best for you. Only you know what you want.