HVCC BUILDING A PROGRAM
By Bob Weiner
There’s a new men’s collegiate golf program in the Capital Area, and first-year head coach Alyssa Ruggiero is standing on the first tee with a blank slate on her roster.
Ruggiero, a 32-year-old Shenendehowa High School and SUNY Cortland graduate, already embarked on her new coaching career by guiding the Hudson Valley Community College women’s team during its inaugural season a year ago. Now, she’s ready to build the men’s team from scratch.
“Right now, it’s a situation where I have to find enough players to play,” said Ruggiero, who currently teaches physical education in the Schenectady City School District. “As you might imagine, it was a lot tougher to find enough women in our first season, but we did it. There are a lot more men from which to choose. The problem is that we are starting the season very soon, and the weather isn’t cooperating.”
Ruggiero said the HVCC men will begin play sometime in April.
“It’s a short season,” she said. “I’ve been looking at a lot of former high school players from the area to see if they have interest in playing. There are also plenty of former junior standouts who might not be playing organized golf.
“Right now, it’s a combination of me trying to recruit players myself and also hoping that there are a lot of students here who hear about our new program and then contact us because they want to give it a try.”
Ruggiero said that the Capital Area is loaded with talented players. Most of the high schools in the region have golf teams.
“I’m not looking for players who necessarily can shoot par golf,” he said. “But I am looking for strong players who have solid fundamentals and know how to play the game. We are building the program.
“One of the challenges with a community college is that we have a lot of students who might also be working while they go to school, and many others are hoping to transfer to Division I programs after they graduate and they are working hard on their studies. They are very busy.”
Ruggiero will have an interest meeting during the first week of February. The Vikings’ home course will be Pheasant Hollow. For practice purposes, she will have access to the HVCC racquetball courts, as well as the golf simulator at Route Fore Golf Center on North Greenbush Road in Troy.
“I’m expecting things to go well once we pick a team and the weather turns,” Ruggiero said. “We did very well last year with our first women’s team. We started slowly there with four players, and many of them still had to be taught parts of the game. But they did a fantastic job by the end of the season. Remember, it’s very difficult in junior college golf, because you only have two years to work with them. My plan is trying to get people who can play during the first year, train them, and then having them be solid players for their second year.”
Ruggiero was a nationally-ranked junior golfer and competed on the Shenendehowa High School boys’ varsity for five seasons. She earned an athletic scholarship to the University of North Carolina-Greensboro but transferred to SUNY-Cortland, where she won three tournaments, finished second twice and earned two additional top-10 finishes in the 2004-2005 campaign. She was named to the SUNYAC Student Athletic Advisory Committee and was a two-time SUNYAC All-Academic Team member. She graduated cum laude from SUNY Cortland and earned her master’s degree from West Virginia University in 2013.
Ruggiero has also coached the girls’ junior varsity soccer and softball teams, as well as the boys’ and girls’ crew team at Schenectady.
Male or female students interested in playing golf for HVCC this season can contact Ruggiero at 518-629-7328 or email@example.com.