January 2, 2014

Student-Athlete Profile: James Rucinski

The Franklin & Marshall scholar-athlete profile features one Diplomat per month who personifies what it means to be an NCAA student-athlete. The F&M campus is filled with dedicated, passionate, and talented student-athletes who have interesting stories to tell – and it's our goal to let those stories be heard. To be chosen as a scholar-athlete of the month, F&M student-athletes must demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, and community service, or have a noteworthy story that stretches beyond the realm of athletic competition. 

Student athletes at F&M have multiple talents, many of which are away from the competition venue. James Rucinski's balance of being a musician and participating in collegiate athletics has redefined what it means to be a student-athlete. 

In addition to being a member of the cross country, track and field, and squash teams, Rucinski is a part of the Ice Hockey Club, Mu Sigma Upsilon (Instrumental Music Honor Society), Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) at Millersville, and recently received his certification as an Emergency Medical Technician.

Despite the enormous amount of time and dedication Rucinski puts into his athletic career at F&M, he still found time to hone his craft as a talented musician. That dedication paid off with Rucinski receiving the Nolt Music Award in 2012, a grant that enables F&M student musicians to undertake musically enriching projects. Criteria for receiving the Award include a quality application, academic standing, and potential artistic benefit to the applicant and the community.

Rucinski earned the Nolt Music Award and was selected to participate in the Alexander and Buono International Flute Competition on Oct. 20, at Carnegie Hall.

At this prestigious competition, applicants chosen as winners are given their debut solo performance at Carnegie Hall, a venue only blocks away from Rucinski's home, a place he never imagined getting the opportunity to perform at.

"It was a different experience than I ever had as a performer," said Rucinski. "Even with all of the professional musicians watching, I stayed calm and concentrated on my performance." 

Rucinski believed he performed well and is privileged to be able to say he made his solo debut at Carnegie Hall. The unforgettable experience is one he will cherish forever.

"I wouldn't have won and played in the winner's recital without good teaching and coaching," said Rucinski. "My performance was based off putting time and effort into something I really enjoy."

When asked about Rucinski's several talents, F&M cross country coach John Stoudt pointed out James' hard work, dedication, and modesty. "He was one of our hardest working runners, which the entire team respected, and he was always humble about his musical talents."

In all three sports that James has participated in at F&M, his teammates have been incredibly encouraging. "In the teams I've been a part of while at F&M, people go out of their way to support and to cheer on their teammates," said Rucinski.

The cross country team was especially important to Rucinski because of the assistance from his teammates and Stoudt. "I have benefited from the great team spirit of the cross country team and the friends I have made," said Rucinski. "I benefited by having a great coach who took me on the team even though I had never run cross country before and he helped me learn about my capabilities and strategies for running."

Thanks to hard work and support from his teammates and coach, Rucinski was chosen to run in Centennial Conference (CC) Championships as an alternate for regionals this past fall.

When asked why he chose F&M, Rucinski points out that college offered everything he was looking for.

"I wanted to be at a small liberal arts college where I could play varsity sports," said Rucinski. "I also wanted to go somewhere where I could participate in instrumental music at a high level."

Rucinski plans on becoming a United Stats Marine Corps Officer or a ski patroller in Aspen, Colo. after graduation.