Vanya Ruano has always wanted to help other people.
Specifically, the Team 91 2019 midfielder from Seaford has always loved helping little kids, and she got the opportunity to do just that when she joined a club in middle school called Best Buddies.
“My neighbor had autism and I never noticed it when she was little,” Ruano said. “When I got to middle school, I heard about the club and got into it, and I think that’s when I realized that she was different from me. Our club works with a group of maybe 15 kids with different disabilities, including autism and Down Syndrome and every other Tuesday of every month, we get to spend time with them. We’ll play games, take them out to eat, go to the park, and things like that. I’ve really enjoyed it.”
It was that desire to help people that helped her realize that she wanted to study nursing to eventually help more people.
“I’d kind of always see it on TV with shows like Grey’s Anatomy and shows like that, and I always thought what they did was really cool and that I’d be interested in it since I didn’t find anything else interesting,” Ruano said.
With that in mind, it didn’t take her too long to find the perfect school for her that combined high-level lacrosse with the ability to follow her nursing passion. When she found out about Fairleigh Dickinson, Ruano liked that it was a Division III school where she could play lacrosse without having it be her whole life, and she loved the school’s nursing program. Ruano ended up committing to continue her academic and athletic career for the Knights.
“I really liked that it wasn’t big or too small, and I thought that everyone on the team was very welcoming and nice to me,” Ruano said. “It wasn’t far from home, and Division III was the perfect fit where I’d be able to balance lacrosse and nursing. They mentioned that both the lacrosse and nursing programs were good, and I played with a couple of girls who went there and they said that they loved it. It felt like another place that I could call my home.”
A midfielder who prides herself on her ability to play both offense and defense as well as a three-sport athlete, Ruano will be able to hit her through-the-roof potential once she’ll start playing lacrosse exclusively. A power forward on the basketball court and a defender in soccer, she’s been able to use that multi-sport cross-training to her advantage.
“I really like playing attack more where I can play from the side and back cut once the defender turns her back to me,” Ruano said. “My shooting’s pretty good, too, and I move the goalie around a lot. When I first visited FDU, I did a 7v7 there, and they said that they really wanted to have me. Everything fell into place and it was all good for me, and the 91 coaches have really helped a lot. Playing for 91 was more advanced than anything I was used to, and I was dedicated to it, and I would do everything I could to help improve my skills.”
That dedication to improvement paid off in spades, and now, she’ll have the chance to continue helping people like she’s always wanted to.
“She’s a strong two-way midfielder who does everything that you ask of her,” Team 91 Girls director Alyssa Guido said. “She never complains and is always ready to work, and she’s so consistent. We’re so excited for Vanya that she was able to find a place that offered great lacrosse and a terrific nursing program, and we’re pumped to watch her at FDU.”