Chris Ruhl is 6 feet 4 inches tall and 240 pounds of muscle.
The senior football captain from Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania, has not always been a strong player on Lehigh’s team. Behind two other tight ends, Ruhl found it hard to find steady, or any, playing time in his freshman and sophomore years at Lehigh. However, Ruhl found himself starting twice and making his first career reception against Georgetown University his junior year, a 42-yard catch that was one of the longest catches by a Lehigh receiver all year.
Reflecting on the losing 2014 season, Ruhl knew he wanted to somehow leave his mark on Lehigh. He wanted to lead a team to victory. Ruhl didn’t want to look back and wonder what could’ve or should’ve been.
In the spring of his junior year, there was a change in mindset for Ruhl, a sense of urgency.
Seeing definite promise and an intensity that he hadn’t before seen in Ruhl, coach Andy Coen referred him to Julie Ammary, the director for athletics leadership development. He requested to place Ruhl into the third level of the athletics leadership program called Leadership Legacies. According to Lehigh’s website, Leadership Legacies is a program that “supports veteran leaders and captains in the practical application of emotionally intelligent leadership and the navigation of team leadership challenges in partnership with their coaches.”
“It’s all about the application of leadership, knowledge and skills so that a student athlete can actively lead their team throughout the season,” Ammary said.
Ruhl flourished in this environment. Finding his niche and a fix in every pillar that the program determined to be a means of success in leadership.
The 2015 season was a chance for him to go hard for one last year. Ruhl knew if he could transfer his success in the Legacy’s program to the upcoming 2015 season, not only would he be successful, but his team would be too.
Ruhl does not only compete against himself on the football field but just as much in the classroom. Maintaining his spot on the dean’s list every semester, the mechanical engineering major has an overall GPA of 3.70.
Take a walk into Fairchild-Martindale Library around midnight during the weekdays and Ruhl will likely be found studying or working on homework. Stay another two hours, and you’ll find a completed, and likely perfected, homework assignment.
In order to maximize his time at Lehigh, Ruhl thought it would be beneficial for him to stay in the summertime and train with a handful of his teammates that are local to the area. However, he knew that he would have to make some form of income during the summer. Ruhl asked Coen if he knew of anything that would be able to make him money so he could stay on campus to train. Coen went straight to the head of the mechanical engineering department.
Ruhl was able to make money in a job that applied to his mechanical engineering degree and gave him the ability to workout for the upcoming season. Ruhl has worked with the head of the department ever since the summer of his sophomore year doing research on creating a 3-D metal printer. In this time he has also made his own 3-D printer.
During his time in the summers at Lehigh, Ruhl got especially close with teammate and junior quarterback Nick Shafnisky. Shafnisky knew coming into preseason that he was going to be voting for Ruhl as captain after his performance in the spring showed his willingness, eagerness, and “don’t take anything for granted” attitude, to make the 2015 season a successful one.
“He is a go to guy,” said Coen.
This year’s 2015 football team prides itself on being a family. Players are excited to be practicing, rather than it being a duty.
“The excitement and eagerness, I haven’t seen in the past three years I’ve been here,” Ruhl said.