Eleventh Annual Ruby Rutnik Tournament Raises Nearly $30,000 for Scholarship Fund

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Clear skies and an enthusiastic crowd welcomed the 11th annual Ruby Rutnik Memorial Softball Tournament on Friday, May 4, through Sunday, May 6, at the Winston Wells ball field in Cruz Bay.

The Central High Lady Caribs walked away with the title after beating the St. Thomas All Stars 16-10 at the Sunday championship game.

Nearly $30,000 was raised for the Ruby Rutnik Scholarship Fund, which awards scholarships to four Virgin Islands students each year.

Fund To Pay Out $10,000
“We are still receiving donations to the Ruby Rutnik Scholarship Fund as a result of the tournament, but it looks like we will probably take in around $25,000 to $30,000,” said tournament organizer Janet Cook-Rutnik. “We will be paying out $10,000 in four scholarships — last year’s winner, Raquida Edwards will receive the second year’s $2,500; a new girl will be chosen for the $2,500 two-year renewable scholarship; a boy or girl will be awarded the one-year University of the Virgin Islands $2,500 scholarship; and the tournament winning school, Central High, will submit applications for a qualifying senior girl, and one will be selected.”

Last year’s two-year scholarship recipient Edwards received straight A’s in her first semester at college, Cook-Rutnik added.

Fund Grown Considerably
The scholarship fund will also pay out $2,500 to the Tortola school which won last year’s scholarship.

“They asked that the award be deferred a year, as the girls were so young,” said Cook-Rutnik.

The scholarship fund, which initially awarded a one-year $2,500 scholarship to a St. John girl, has grown considerably, explained Cook-Rutnik.

“We decided to make the one-year award a two-year award, and to choose a new girl each year,” she said. “Then we added the team award and the UVI award, basically doubling the amount needed for the endowment, which perpetrates the scholarship whether funds are raised or not. So, we went from a goal of $100,000 to $200,000, and we are proud to say we are very close to fulfilling this mission.”

The community continues to show tremendous support for the softball tournament, held in honor of Cook-Rutnik’s daughter Ruby, who died in 1996 in a car accident during her senior year at American University in Washington, D.C.

Community Participates
“For our family, the tournament is a special way of remembering Ruby while helping other young women pursue their academic goals, and we thank the community for it,” said Cook-Rutnik. “This is the eleventh year and the support continues to grow. This is a big event in which most of the community participates in one way or another and we really appreciate it.”

“In addition to the financial and in-kind donations it is nice to have people come out and support the girls by watching the games and buying food and drink from the hard-working Love City Pan Dragons, whose efforts support their worthwhile organization,” Cook-Rutnik added.

The memorial softball tournament draws softball teams and community support from throughout the Virgin Islands.

Scholarship Deadline May 25
“We receive a tremendous amount of sponsor support from businesses and individuals on St. Thomas as well as St. John, and with two great teams coming over from St. Croix, it is a tri-island event,” said Cook-Rutnik. “We would especially like to thank tournament directors George and Gayle Deller of St. Thomas, who put their heart and soul in softball and have been organizing the games for the last five years.”

Students wishing to apply for a scholarship from the Ruby Rutnik Fund should pick up an application from Connections in Cruz Bay or Coral Bay, or call the Rutniks at 693-8069.

The deadline for application submission is May 25, and scholarship recipients will be notified on or before June 11.