We are extremely excited to share our most recent interview with our readers! U.S. youth national team and Duke University standout Ruthie Jones took the time to answer a few questions for us and I don't think you'll want to miss this one. She shares her insight about excelling as a multi-sport athlete, competing at a high division one level, and much more. Enjoy this amazing interview!
You were a two-sport athlete for most of your high school career. What made you pick soccer as your main sport?
Growing up, I loved playing all sports. I feel so lucky I got to play both basketball and soccer for so long. As I got older, I began to focus more on soccer because I realized it was something I could and wanted to have a future in. That being said, I still miss playing basketball and look for every opportunity to get back on the court!
Do you think being a multi-sport athlete helped your development more as a goalkeeper? What aspects specifically were most beneficial?
I think playing both sports definitely helped me improve as a goalkeeper. Physically, playing a game that requires using your hands to move the ball helped me in terms of hand-eye coordination. Basketball also taught me to move my feet and got me fit. Mentally, I think basketball can be an especially intense and intimate game. It forced me to stay mentally tough in high stress situations, which definitely translates to being a goalkeeper.
Growing up, you were a part of various youth national teams at different age groups. What were those experiences like and how did they motivate you to keep improving?
Getting to play with the national team has been one of the most special experiences of my life. There are not a lot of things that can push you to play your best like wearing the USA crest. As a young player, I think being in an environment that surrounded me with elite players and coaches who were the best in the country unlocked my real potential and inspired me to be the best. It was an environment that I could then try to emulate while training at home, pushing me to keep my standards high and to keep improving.
You were rated as one of the top goalkeepers in the country coming out of high school. What kind of pressure did that put on you and how did you deal with that throughout your recruiting process?
During high school and throughout my recruiting process, I tried to ignore a lot of the outside noise and just focus on my game. I wanted to find a place where I could play at a high level and be happy. It was important for me to remind myself that because of soccer I had some amazing opportunities to visit great schools all across the country, instead of putting pressure on myself to make the decision.
Speaking of recruiting, you ultimately decided to go to Duke University. What made Duke stand out to you and what went into your decision-making process?
Duke stood out to me as being a place where I could compete at the highest level for women’s collegiate soccer and attend an excellent university. The more I visited and got familiar with it, though, the more I realized that I loved the school as a whole and would be happy with my team and the environment at Duke.
In your freshman year, you saw action in four games. What was the transition process like from high school to major division one soccer? What kind of adjustment period (if any) was there for you?
Playing ACC soccer is definitely an adjustment from high school and club soccer. First, you’re going from practicing a few days a week with games on the weekend to full 20 hour weeks. From meetings, to treatment, to training, and to games, there’s just more involved playing a D1 sport. In terms of the soccer, the main adjustment is just that the game is so much faster. It can sometimes feel hard to keep up when you’re coming out of a high school or club environment. I didn’t get to play a lot my freshman season, but the time I did get in those 4 games and in training helped me to get acclimated to the higher pace and standard that there is in the college game. It could be discouraging at times, not getting to play as much as I did in high school, but it was important to keep my head down, learn from the older players, and keep working.
As a Sophomore, you played significantly more minutes. What did you do in the offseason to prepare for the fall season? Does anything different stand out to you that helped you increase your playing time?
I pride myself on being coachable and working hard. Coming out of my freshman season, I knew the things I needed to improve on so I worked all spring and summer on getting better at those things. Despite not having a lot of game time experience, I came into my sophomore season more confident in myself and ready to compete for game minutes and for my team. As the season went on and I gained more experience on the field, I was able to be even more confident.
What are some of your goals for your career at Duke and after college soccer?
I want to win trophies. Right now my only focus is doing everything I can to help my team win a National Championship.
How do you manage the expectations you put on yourself, the natural expectations of playing for a successful program, and the expectations from those around you (family, friends, fans, etc.)?
Managing expectations can be a difficult, but the way I find I can be successful is to focus on getting better everyday. The standards that Duke, myself, and others set are important to know and remember, but if I can leave each training session feeling like I got better then fulfilling any expectation will come naturally.
All of your siblings played college athletics and one of your brothers is currently in the NFL so everyone has to know, who is the best athlete in the family?
This is definitely the hardest question, haha. Maybe I’m biased, but all I’ll say is that Daniel and I will beat Becca and Bates in 2-on-2 basketball in the driveway 9 out of 10 times.