Swing and a hit

Spanish teacher Juan Carlos Ruiz welcomes students into class. Ruiz plans to show students the movie The Perfect Game to connect baseball and  latin athletes struggles  in the late 50s.

Spanish teacher Juan Carlos Ruiz welcomes students into class. Ruiz plans to show students the movie “The Perfect Game” to connect baseball and latin athletes struggles in the late 50’s.

Priscilla Olmos

As a coach, Mr. Ruiz is a jack of all trades. He coaches volleyball and while he may not coach basketball, softball, golf, baseball, or tennis he knows how to play all these sports and more. He took up golf when he found nothing “interesting to do” in the small town of Eagle Pass and has been playing ever since.


Ruiz’s sports journey began at his hometown back in Venezuela through local festivities.


“My mother was a cyclist and she would race in the town’s local competitions to earn money,” Ruiz said.


Since bicycles “weren’t his thing,” Ruiz and his brother would run marathons as their mother bicycled. This sparked Ruiz’s interest in track.


“The whole family was active–my father not so much, but my brothers and I pursued physical activity,”


And  track wasn’t the only sport Ruiz practiced growing up.


“In middle school I participated in baseball, and then volleyball was added to my lifestyle,” he continued as he sat in the teacher lounge with his lunch company, Mr. Agustin Guzman.


As Mr. Ruiz moved on to high school he continued playing volleyball since “it came the easiest” to him.  Mr. Ruiz knows a lot about the sport from personal experience. Back in Venezuela he played for his school and then he moved to play against other states within Venezuela.


“I got pre-selected to the Venezuelan National Team to go compete against all the other countries and I made it,” Ruiz said.


All this happened at the age of 18, before Ruiz moved to the US for college. “Also I played club volleyball internationally, where we played Panama, Bolivia and all of South American countries.”


However, when Ruiz moved to the US, he was no longer able to continue playing volleyball due to the decline in popularity of the sport. As Mr. Ruiz adapted to American culture he began to notice differences between his home country and the United States.


“Volleyball in Texas is more female-oriented and you needed to form teams to play,” Ruiz said.

The job to coach the freshmen volleyball team opened last year, and since Ruiz had obtained a physical education degree, he took the position. To encourage the players he dresses up, wearing a tie and an expensive watch.


Adapted to American culture, Ruiz plays golf now. “I could never play golf or tennis back in Venezuela since it’s an expensive sport that only the elite could play.”


Now he plays it regularly whether alone or with strangers at a country club, where he has won several trophies.


This fall, Ruiz plans to share one of his other athletic passions and host a golf fundraiser to improve upon the existent weight room.


“We hope to open up a place where the players can press weight since muscle strength is really important.”


The whole school can see that Mr. Ruiz brings different latin cultures to one classroom, as well as incorporating sports in his lessons in many ways.


Mr. Ruiz incorporates his Latin culture and love for sports in Spanish class to make his lessons unique


“He’s fun, strict and always teaches new techniques to improve. He is a different person on the court than in the classroom,” freshman volleyball player Lendy Cano said.