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RUTNIK TOURNEY'S WINNING SCHOOL TO GET AWARD

March 31, 2003 – The 7th annual Ruby Rutnik Memorial Softball Tournament will take place Friday through Sunday on St. John at the Winston Wells Ballfield in Cruz Bay.
From its inception, the event has had three objectives:
– To honor the memory of Rutnik, the daughter of St. John residents Andrew Rutnik and Janet Cook-Rutnik, who was killed in a car crash at the age of 21 in her senior year of college.
– To foster competitive softball among high school girls' teams in the territory (Rutnik was a star "windmill" pitcher on the Antilles School team).
– To raise funds for college scholarships to be awarded to St. John young women in Rutnik's honor.
A significant change this year will impact on the latter two objectives. Until now, the girls' teams were vying for glory, a trophy and a listing on the perpetual wooden plaque that is kept by the winning school until the next year's event.
Because all of the high school teams are from St. Thomas or St. Croix and many of the participants and supporters of the tournament are from those islands, the Ruby Rutnik Scholarship Fund Inc. board of directors voted to award a third $2,500 scholarship each year — to the school of the winning team.
The winning team's school each year will be given a scholarship application package and will appoint its own committee to select the recipient.
Again this year, men's teams will be playing in a separate mini-tournament of night games.
Defenders returning in strength
Last year, the final duel was between two St. Croix teams, as the Good Hope School Lady Falcons beat out the Educational Complex Lady Barracudas. The deciding game actually was played on St. Croix after being postponed because of rain on the third day of tournament play on St. John.
Good Hope and its "formidable pitcher, Jenna Castro, will be returning with nearly all of the same players as this varsity team which won the title the past two years with the players from the junior varsity team that won that title in 1999," publicity about the 2003 tournament states.
Gayle and George Deller are again the tournament directors, and team representatives with questions should call them at 774-0352.
The food concession will be run by Enid Hendricks and her daughters, and St. John Rescue will operate the bar. Contributions from both efforts will go toward continued improvements to the ball field, which was filled and graded last year to solve the serious water drainage problem that had plagued games for years. This major undertaking was paid for by the Ruby Rutnik Scholarship Fund Inc.
In a collaborative effort with the Housing Parks and Recreation Department, the dugouts and bleachers are being painted and spruced up for this year's tournament.
The main way the foundation raises money for scholarships at the annual tournament is by securing sponsorship for innings and games. An inning is up for grabs for $100; a whole game goes for $700. Commemorative T-shirts also will be sold, for $15 each.
Anyone wanting to buy a shirt, sign up for sponsorship or just make a contribution to the cause in advance may to do so at Connections in Cruz Bay or Coral Bay. Checks should be payable to RRSF Inc. and also may be mailed to Rutnik, PO Box 348 Cruz Bay, St. John VI 00831. Scholarship application forms are available at Connections, too.
Potential sponsors also can call the Rutniks at 776-6809 or send an e-mail message to Cook-Rutnik.
The winners list
Each year, the Ruby Rutnik Scholarship Fund Inc. awards a $2,500 scholarship to a St. John girl attending an accredited college that is renewable for a second year. Thus, at any given time, two of the island's young women are receiving assistance — one for the first year and the other for the second.
The 2002-03 winner, Nyeisha Smalls, has qualified for her second-year renewal as she is in good standing at Florida A & M University in Tallahasee. Her predecessors are a "Who's Who" of college success:
1. Tessa Williams, who graduated from American University and returned to graduate school to pursue a master's degree in health promotion.
2. Khania Dawson, who graduated from Hampton University and is now a financial analyst with Madison Associates Financial Trust Co. on St. Thomas.
3. Tiffany Rogers, who has by all accounts completed her studies at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton with high grades.
4. Kirsten Maize, who is an upperclassman at the University of San Diego in California majoring in environmental studies and international relations.
5. Jessa Buchalter, who finished her sophomore year at Syracuse University on the Dean's List.
The 11 awards given out so far to the six recipients total $27,500.
All St. John girls in good academic standing who plan to attend or are attending an accredited college or university are encouraged to apply for the 2003-04 new award. The deadline for submitting applications is May 15. For more information, please contact the Rutniks at 776-6809.
The goal of the Ruby Rutnik Scholarship Fund Inc. is to establish an endowment which will provide ongoing funding for the annual awards. "This goal is two-thirds to completion," publicity states.

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