Her leadership as a tennis captain, passion to end human trafficking, and long list of volunteer work are just a few reasons senior Clara Ruegsegger was named an Arthur Ashe, Jr. Award recipient this past spring.
Ruegsegger was one of eight tennis players in the nation to receive the Arthur Ashe, Jr. Award this year and the only one in the NAIA.
The award, named after tennis player and humanitarian Arthur Ashe, recognizes student tennis players who excel on the court and give back off the court, according to arthurashe.org.
A Social Work major, Ruegsegger has had a lot of opportunity to serve,not only her Olivet community, but around the world, from Bourbonnais, Illinois, to her home town in Greenfield, Indiana, to three months in Ecuador last summer.
“It’s been a huge blessing being in social work, giving me an opportunity to serve I wouldn’t have otherwise,” Ruegsegger said.
Teammate junior Erica Matheis, head tennis coach Chris Tudor, and graduate assistant coach Marcy Huck all agree Ruegsegger deserved to receive this award.
“[Ruegsegger] definitely works really hard, giving over 100%. Tennis is something she really cares about,” Matheis said. “She really cares about ending human trafficking, too, and it’s a true passion of hers.”
Tudor said that Ruegsegger’s hard work, ethics and personality motivates and inspires her teammates to work hard.
“From what I see in practice, when she steps out on the court, people follow her every lead. She has that leadership quality and she’s compassionate,” Huck said.
Ruegsegger spent Aug. 26-31 in New York City to meet other Arthur Ashe recipients and be honored as one herself.
During her week in the city, she played tennis in a white tennis uniform on the grass courts of the West Side Tennis Club in Forrest Hill, New York, where the US Open was previously held. While at the tennis club, Ruegsegger played doubles with big-time members of the community.
“It was one of my favorite parts because I made connections with people who have done some really amazing things,” Ruegsegger said.
Later that day, the recipients heard former New York mayor David Din- kins, a good friend to Arthur Ashe, be- fore receiving their awards.
“[Arthur Ashe] was the last person with a college degree to win the Grand Slam,” Ruegsegger said. “That spoke a lot about his character. It’s honoring the character of who he was and who [the Arthur Ashe recipients] are.”