Janitor and coach inspires students


Mitch Fink

Rober Ruiz stands next to Reunion Field, the home of the girls’ soccer team. Ruiz is an assistant coach of the team.

Kwynne Schlossman and Ethan Schlapp

Rober Ruiz is a pretty familiar figure around campus. He can often be found mopping the floors of the dining hall, cleaning up in the boys’ dorms and coaching the girls’ varsity soccer team. And although many may remember him for his numerous jobs and his dedication to keeping campus clean, more recognize him for his constant smile. 

Although Ruiz has been an employee at Masters for almost 20 years, his story begins years before his employment at the school. Originally born in Lima, Peru, Ruiz grew up in South America before immigrating to the United States in 1998. 

“I came in for a new opportunity for my family,” Ruiz said. “Many people [are] coming, leaving [their] country for other opportunities,” he continued.

Soon after, Ruiz’s wife and son followed him to New York, while Ruiz began working at the Ardsley Country Club in Dobbs Ferry. But because he only worked 7 months out of the year, Ruiz did not receive health insurance from the club. This proved to be an issue for his son, who was going to go to the local childcare facility, Days of Wonder.

However, after Ruiz’s wife, Doris, who would later also become a Masters employee, explained their situation to an employee at Days of Wonder, the employee was able to get in touch with Joe Stasko, the former Facilities Manager at Masters. Soon after, Ruiz came in for an interview and got the job as a custodian, which would allow him to work full time and have insurance. But having had another kind of job in his home country, Ruiz noted that his work in Peru was different than in New York.
“I have done similar work, but what I did in my country was very different,” Ruiz said “I worked as a supervisor for 11 years in my country, a supervisor in a production factory. It was very different, but I liked it,” he added later.

Since becoming an employee of the school in 2001, Ruiz has performed a variety of jobs to keep Masters looking pristine.

“I’[ve] [been] working in the boys’ dorms for 14 years,” Ruiz said. Much of this work is done behind-the-scenes, as Ruiz and his fellow custodians remain hard at work during the summer months. They spend time cleaning the dorms out, moving furniture, and clearing space, among other things.

Nearing the anniversary of his twentieth year at Masters, Ruiz reflected on what Masters means to him.

“Masters is like a family, a family, the students” he said. “It gives the best to me,” he later added. 

And as we approach Martin Luther King Day with the theme “unheard voices” in mind, let us remember the people like Robert Ruiz who continue to make our lives better. Next time you see him in the hallway, offer him a greeting, for it is us, the students, that make his experience. He said, “I like when [the students] say in the morning, ‘Good morning! How are you?’ ‘You have [a] good day!,’ ‘Thank you, thank you!’ It is you, the students.”

Rober Ruiz, after a day of maintenance and small talk with students, ends his day down on Reunion Field with the girls’ varsity soccer team. Ruiz has been an assistant coach for the varsity team since the fall 2019 season. Being a coach has allowed him to interact with a larger group of students and has helped him become more involved with the Masters community. 

  Brendon Barrios, the head coach of the girl’s varsity team, invited Ruiz to play soccer with him and his men’s team on the weekends against the other Rivertowns. He said he saw Ruiz’s clear expertise in the sport and his coaching potential. 

In 2019, Barrios was made head coach, and offered Ruiz the position as the assistant coach. By working through strategies while playing together on the weekends, Ruiz and Barrios were able to dramatically shift the varsity team’s record. In 2018 the team only won 3 games, but after the new coaches’ arrival in 2019, the team won 11 games. 

Throughout the fall 2019 season, players such as sophomore Sabine Godwin found their love for soccer through Ruiz’s inspiration. 

Godwin said, “He is the light of our team and his positive attitude gets us through our tough games and inspires us to persist.”