Ruskie Kravchenko: Athlete of the Week
By Scott Coen:
If you follow the local high school sports scene you know all about the success of the Chicopee Comp Boys Volleyball team.
Once again the Comp Colts are poised to make another serious run at a WMass Championship. In fact Comp is gunning for its fourth straight title this season.
If and when Comp wins Western Mass one big reason for the teams success is senior captain Ruskie Kravchenko. He’s this weeks ABC40/Fox6 Athlete of the Week.
“He inspires his teammates,” said Comp coach Al Dobson. “He encourages his teammates. He leads by example. Again he’s a hard working kid, and he wouldn’t ask any kid on the team to do anything that he wouldn’t do.”
Leading by example, it’s what the great ones do. And if you had to pick a great high school volleyball player in Western Mass, Ruslan ‘Ruskie’ Kravchenko would be tops on the list.
The senior captain has led the defending state volleyball champs to within two wins of a fourth straight WMass volleyball title.
That qualifies the Colts for dynasty distinction. And when you’re the senior captain on a 3-time defending Western Mass champion, you tend to get a lot of the credit. It’s a great feeling.
“The first year it was really hard,” said Kravchenko. “We were the underdogs. No one knew who we were. So the first couple of years it was hard, but then it just all gradually built up.”
“He likes to win so that right off the bat makes him a really good player. In addition to that, he just loves the game of volleyball, and he plays a lot of volleyball,” said coach Al Dobson.
And not only does Ruskie play a lot of volleyball, he also wins a lot of volleyball games.
But wins and losses don’t nearly tell this young man’s story.
On the surface he looks like the All-American boy. He’s athletic, handsome, and one of the top students in his senior class.
But consider the fact that he can speak three languages because he had to. He arrived in the United States from the Ukraine when he was just five years old.
With the love and support of his family, Ruskie learned a new language and a new way of life.
“When I came in I didn’t know even a word of English,” said Kravchenko. “It’s been really tough. Even now my parents, they’re still having trouble.”
“Like when we come home we have to speak in Ukraine, and then I have to translate for them. Stuff like that has been tough. The most important thing to me would be my parents. They have definitely taught me a lot.”
“They taught me to never give up. Just push myself and strive harder.”
“It’s been hard but they support me all the way. Even playing soccer and volleyball, they’ve really been there for me every step of the way.”
Love of family and dedication to a sport, it’s the international language, and it’s helped to make Ruskie Kravchenko this weeks ABC40 and Fox6 Athlete of the Week.