By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — He spent four years as a standout soccer player at Port Charlotte High School.
Now he’ll try and do the same at the next level.
Midfielder Jeremiah Ruth signed a scholarship last week to attend Columbia International University, where he’ll spend the next four years playing the same position he played for the Pirates. Ruth scored 13 goals and kicked out 10 assists as a senior for Port Charlotte, earning a spot on The Sun’s all-area team while also garnering some collegiate attention.
Florida Gulf Coast University was hot on Ruth’s trail this summer until Columbia International coach Bill Brindley reached out to the recent Port Charlotte graduate last month. Brindley’s relationship with Ruth proved to be the determining factor in the newest Ram’s decision.
“Their coach contacted me and after hearing about the school and the team and everything about it, I just decided it was right for me. It was a great environment and I thought I’d do well there,” Ruth said.
Columbia International is a Christian institution located in Columbia, South Carolina, and that also proved to be a big factor for Ruth, who plans to major in either business management or sports management.
“I wanted to go somewhere that I felt comfortable and didn’t feel like a distraction and I felt Columbia had that,” Ruth said.
In addition to playing for Port Charlotte, Ruth was also a standout member on the Braden River Rage, a 19U team that’s part of the Florida Premier League. On one of the 16 best teams in the state, Ruth led the Rage to the State Cup Final in 2016 and was named to multiple all-star teams during his young career.
Ruth becomes just another member of his family to sign on to play collegiate soccer. His sister Heidi was the most recent to take her talents to the next level, joining Southeastern University two years ago.
His younger brother Nate, who also plays for the Rage and the Pirates, will likely be the next from the family in another year.
“We’re excited to have Jeremiah join the team,” Brindley told CIU athletics. “Jeremiah comes from a strong family with a great soccer pedigree that will translate well here at CIU. He also will be able to come in a contribute right away for the team so we are happy that he has chosen to be a Ram.”
Ruth may have the soccer gene that’s been passed down through family generations, but he says he wouldn’t be heading to Columbia, South Carolina if it weren’t for Port Charlotte coach Joe Roca.
“He was always so encouraging and he helped me,” Ruth said. “Even though sometimes I didn’t do well, he’d say, ‘you’ll do good tomorrow, keep working hard.’”
Roca, of course, deflected the credit back to Ruth, who was a team captain for his final two seasons at Port Charlotte.
“Jeremiah was a team leader in many respects,” Roca said. “He was always well prepared and ensured that his teammates were also ready to play. He is respectful to all on and off the field and will be a positive force on his new team. Jeremiah’s talent speaks for itself. It has been my pleasure to have coached him for the past 4 years and I wish him the best in his new endeavors.”
In addition to missing Roca, Ruth says he’ll miss his Port Charlotte teammates he called family for the past four years. But he’s also ready to make a new one at Columbia International.
“I liked playing for coach Joe and the group of guys I played with. That was pretty fun,” Ruth said. “But I’m excited and looking forward to getting out of the state and trying something new for awhile.”