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A Lifelong Love of Soccer

Greg Ruffino_300px squareGreg Ruffino, InterProse's Sales Manager, first kicked a soccer ball at the age of 3. This ignited a lifelong passion for playing sports and competition. Playing competitively through High School led to being recruited by Mars Hill University in NC. After college, the prospect of continuing to play soccer at the next level was not in the cards and the real world set in. Greg found himself relegated to getting his soccer fix kicking around in the nighttime adult leagues in town. Although this was fun, it was not exactly fulfilling the passion he once had for the sport.

Greg started coaching soccer in his early twenties as a way to earn some part time money, but it did not take long to re-ignite his passion for the sport and uncover a talent for working with youth athletes. As an added bonus, coaching was a great way to be involved in his community and it turned into a long-term endeavor.

"I love helping kids learn how to overcome obstacles and to help them achieve things they didn't think they could."

After several years of enjoying coaching, it became undeniable that his passion for playing was alive and well. This inspired Greg to get back into playing the sport at a higher level than the standard adult leagues held together by a need for comradery and a shared pursuit of drinking. Seeking a more competitive community led him to finding the current team that he plays for, Charlotte Sporting, who are multi-time NC State Champions in the top adult league in the state.

Outside of soccer fulfilling the competitive spirit, Greg also discovered the sport of Gaelic Football. Since 2008, Greg has also played for the Charlotte team, James Connollys Gaelic Football Club. Competing in Gaelic football has earned him and his clubmates 2 recent national championships and 3 trips to compete in Ireland in the Worlds Gaelic Games. There are some pretty fun photos below of these adventures.

Greg’s favorite moments of coaching came when he started coaching his two young children, Lily and Nico, as they began their early childhood sporting adventures. Nico has gone on to continue with the sport and Greg was able to coach his team up until 2023 where there is the eventual separation between the parent coach and the player.

Greg feels that there is nothing better than being involved in a child’s development and to help them discover or hone their talents. 

-Greg currently hold his National D Soccer coaching license and will be pursuing the C license in 2024.

- He coaches for various age levels with the Youth Academy and leads his own U11 Boys team with the Charlotte Independence Soccer Club. 

Youth Soccer Coach Ruffino

Working with my kids' teams as their coach has been one of the greatest highlights of my life. Not only do I get to share my love of the game with them, but I get to spend quality time encouraging them to succeed and reframe failure as life's greatest teacher. 

Through play, my kids and their teammates learn more than how to play a game. They learn life lessons that I hope they will carry with them the rest of their lives.

Greg Ruffino in action - Gaelic Football

This is a fun action shot a professional photographer captured in Ireland while we were competing in the Gaelic Football championships. 

Unbeknownst to me, I pull my face pretty comically when I'm in the heat of competition. Ha!

Ruffino cheering for Womens Team Compilation_450px

These pics show me, barely contained by the stands, cheering on the women's team as they became Gaelic World Champs in Ireland the summer of 2023. I an honestly say this is one of my favorite sporting moments ever and I'm thrilled the emotion was caught by the photographer.

I used to coach these athletes and I have been club mates with them for over 10 years. My wife says this group of photos shows my passion for the sport and competition…such an epic game and moment!

Charlotte Independence U11 Team_Ruffino Coaching_450px

This was taken on Jekyll Island in Georgia and was our team's very first competitive "away" tournament competing against a bunch of teams from around the SE United States. I'm proud to say that they WON the tournament and came home super proud!

My son Nico is not on this team because league policy require splitting parents from their kiddos in the club we participate in. He actually plays for a level above this team, which also brings me no small measure of pride. 

Charlotte Independence U10 Team_Ruffino Coaching

This was in 2023, the last year I coached my son, Nico, and this shot was taken at the end of the tournament season. 

Nico is directly under my right elbow - I promise I didn't bonk him on the head. Ha!

Soccer practice

I thought this was a fun shot of a soccer practice - this is representative of what every youth coach should expect. Some kids are engaged, some are talking to each other, some are spaced out entirely. 

Rule number one - keep them moving as much as possible.

Rule number two - be patient. 

Rule number three - ignore the parents. That's rule four and five too. (and for all the parents whose children I worked with over the years who see this - I'm kidding. I love you all.)

2022 Champions_Carolinas Cup_Premier 40+ Soccer League

I love this picture. It was taken in December of 2022 after winning the Carolinas Cup Over 40 State Championship. 

The gentleman standing to my right is Brad Crysler, a good friend of mine and someone I credit with getting me back into competitive soccer to keep chasing that dream of.. well, winning a championship! 

Thanks Brad, I owe you one!