Sports Person of the Week
Ruel Stayed Ready for Whatever the Warriors Needed
Senior Cameron Ruel was steady as a center attacking midfielder for the Valley Regional boys’ soccer team this year, helping the Warriors go 9-3 on the season. Cameron was also called on to slide into the forward position and fit in perfectly in that role. (Photo courtesy of Cameron Ruel)
Cameron Ruel possesses a versatile set of skills and can perform in any position on the soccer field. The senior recently completed his final season with the Valley Regional boys’ soccer team and, even though that end came prematurely, Cameron had a great campaign that he will remember for a long time.
Cameron was unable to play soccer at Valley last year after sustaining a season-ending injury. That setback made competing this year that all the more meaningful for Cameron. Although he didn’t compete as a junior, Cameron remained a mainstay for moral support on the Warriors’ sidelines last fall.
“I got injured in the second practice at the end of August. At the beginning, it was really good showing up to practice every day and being part of the team, even though I was not playing. It was good being involved with the soccer team as much as possible,” says Cameron, who has also played for the Valley boys’ basketball team. “I was able to play again in winter for CT Rush that year, which was great to get to practice and come back. I would have played basketball, too, but I realized that I would just get hurt if I pushed it too much.”
Cameron and his teammates were aware that there was no guarantee soccer would be played this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an abbreviated schedule, the Warriors went 9-3 before Valley Regional temporarily closed due to an uptick in COVID cases in the school. As a result, all athletics were canceled just as the Shoreline Conference Tournament was set to start. The postseason being called off was a tough pill to swallow, but Cameron still appreciated all the time that the Warriors spent together.
“We did so much this season, and to have it be taken away right at the end was really tough,” Cameron says. “We were looking forward to Shorelines, especially without states, but it was definitely great to get in what we got. We knew it could be taken away at any moment.”
As eager as Cameron was to return to the pitch, he did feel some nervousness creep in. Ultimately, the nerves gave way to muscle memory, and patrolling the midfield came back as naturally as riding a bicycle.
“It felt really good to get back on the field. I was a little nervous the first game. After that, it felt like everything was back to normal. It felt great to be with the coaches and the guys again,” says Cameron. “I think it helped that we had a lot of practice before. The skill wasn’t there at first touch-wise, but I worked that back to be ready for beginning of the year.”
While Cameron can play a variety of positions, he’s mainly a midfielder. Cameron tends to stay focused on the offensive end of the field, particularly as a distributor.
“I’m definitely more of an offensive-minded player. I will look to pass and look for opportunities to score. I will drop back on defense if we need it, but I’m always looking to pass,” Cameron says. “I’m usually looking to get the ball from the defenders and shift it up to look for opportunities for the forwards. It’s always important to win balls in the midfield, though. I’m looking for opportunities to do that on both ends.”
Head Coach Mick Fearon found that Cameron was a valuable piece for his team with the senior’s ability to move around the pitch. With players dropping out of the lineup sporadically during the season due to possible COVID exposure, Cameron’s ability to play multiple spots proved vital to Valley’s success.
“The thing with Cameron was that he was a very versatile player for us this year. One boy was out a bit for a couple of weeks, and Cameron could move up as a forward. When he came back, Cameron went back to the midfield. It was a big help,” says Fearon. “Cameron played center attacking midfield for us for most of the year. That was his focus. I’m sure if push came to shove, we could have played him in the back, too. He played more the attacking midfield role this year.”
Cameron began playing soccer when he was very young. Cameron learned a lot from his father Greg Ruel, who always had plenty of knowledge about the game to impart.
“I’ve been playing soccer as far as I can remember. I soon as I could walk, I was touching a ball,” Cameron says. “My dad started the East Hampton soccer program when he was younger. Up until high school, he was my coach for travel soccer. He definitely helped shaped my game.”
Cameron plans to continue playing soccer at the collegiate level. While in college, Cameron wants to major in a subject that will keep him involved in the sporting world for the rest of his life.
“Playing soccer in college is definitely something I want to do. I’m hoping to hear from schools in New England. I want to stay close by, maybe not in state, but definitely New England. Connecticut would be nice, because my parents would be able to see me play,” says Cameron, who lives in Essex. “I’m considering sports management for my major. I want to do something sports related in the future. I think that I’d enjoy doing that for a living, and it would keep me happy.”
It was difficult for Cameron to miss out on his final postseason with the Warriors. However, he does feel that the events of the last few years have taught him a valuable lesson.
“Definitely enjoy it while it lasts. Take advantage of every moment you’ve got,” Cameron says. “It can all be taken away from you in a minute with COVID and stuff like that.”