Since arriving at Butler last month, Brooke Ruffolo has made everything look easy.
The freshman from Farmington Hills, Mich. immediately became the Bulldogs’ starting libero this season. In that role, she has played in every one of Butler’s 13 matches and 47 sets and leads the team in hitting percentage (.400) and digs (173).
The best part: Ruffolo is a walk-on player.
“I have a good work ethic, and I know what the coaches expected of me,” Ruffolo said. “It’s an honor to be a freshman walk-on and starting. I’m really lucky.”
Luck might not have as much to do with it as sheer ability and talent.
The nine-year player became serious about volleyball during the offseason of her junior year of high school.
After deciding that she indeed wanted to play the game at the collegiate level, Ruffolo starting winning awards and getting phone calls from multiple colleges.
One of those colleges, of course, was Butler.
“The coaches [at Butler] contacted me during a tournament, and I fell in love with the campus,” Ruffolo said. “The girls are very nice, and it was a perfect fit for me.”
Ruffolo has proved to be a perfect fit for Butler volleyball coach Sharon Clark’s team as well.
“[Ruffolo] has worked and competed hard for the starting libero spot,” Clark said. “She’s done a great job for us this year.”
Ruffolo said she can not only help the team with strong performances but also acquire a scholarship to help offset some of the cost of college.
“I hope there is a scholarship for me in the future,” Ruffolo said. “If I’m doing my job for the team, I don’t see why there can’t be.”
While Ruffolo’s work in the first 13 matches of this season has been impressive, she said she must keep working if there is any chance for her to attain a scholarship.
“I need to keep doing what I’m doing now,” Ruffolo said. “I need to scout opponents, get stronger and try to get better during practice.”
Ruffolo said that she hasn’t been treated any differently on the team because she is a walk-on, and Clark admits that she does not use the term walk-on.
This bodes well for a squad that is likely to return nearly all of its players, excluding lone senior Maureen Bamiro.
“Maureen [Bamiro] does a good job leading, and the juniors have stepped up, too,” Ruffolo said. “We all mesh well, and we’re optimistic about the future.”
Ruffolo, who is studying pre-med at Butler, said she expects to “do her own thing” after college. Even if that does not include volleyball, she said she knows she will be better off for competing at the college level.
“It will be a great experience,” Ruffolo said.