Tag Archives: FCIAC

Dave Ruden’s Sports Report

As a Union College junior, Dave Ruden’s courses were filled with reading. So he took creative writing, just so he wouldn’t have to read more.

But the professor saw in Dave a writing talent the 1978 Staples grad had never seen in himself. The instructor encouraged Dave to write about his passion — sports — for the school paper.

“That was probably the worst journalism ever,” Dave recalls. But it launched him on a career in sports that took him to CBS, the New York Times and ESPN.

Now Dave is leaving the Stamford Advocate. He’s creating a blog — “The Ruden Report” — that he hopes becomes the go-to spot for Fairfield County sports fans.

Dave Ruden, in one of the many high school gyms he knows well.

Dave Ruden, in one of the many high school gyms he knows well.

His departure from the Advocate — where he has earned a reputation as a fair, sensitive, talented and insightful writer, specializing in high school sports — is amicable. He loves the paper; it has treated him well, allowing him to cover a wide variety of events (including the World Series and Final Fours).

But the paper’s sports coverage has shrunk — there are now 3 staff writers, down from 9 — and Ruden wants to delve into the human interest stories, profiles and commentary he loves. He’s seen the success of his “Overtime” blog — and he realizes print is not the only way to get news anymore.

This is the 2nd time Dave has left the Advocate for cyberspace. In 1997 — after working hard at his craft, teaching himself by writing often and reading masters like Dave Anderson and Red Smith — he joined ESPN as an online producer.

“It was the most miserable 6 months of my professional life,” he says. “I was hired to write, but they never let me.”

Back at the Advocate, he gravitated to high school sports.

Dave Ruden, at work on the FCIAC sidelines.

Dave Ruden, at work on the FCIAC sidelines.

“I love the FCIAC — the athletes, coaches and administrators,” Dave says, referring to the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference.

“I’ve developed close relationships with the people I cover. There’s nothing more satisfying than making a kid who will never play anything after high school feel special, or having someone tell me they’ve got my stories in their scrapbook.”

“The Ruden Report” debuts the 1st week of September. Dave will continue the popular Player and Team of the Week polls from his current blog. He’ll also host a weekly FCIAC football show, highlighting teams, players, coaches, even referees and trainers.

Though Dave is always objective, he holds a soft spot for his native Westport.

“It’s special. It’s my home,” he admits. “It’s where I picked up my love for soccer. I played as a sophomore, and probably missed more goals than anyone in Staples history. But I was proud to be in the locker room for Mr. Loeffler’s 200th victory as a coach.”

Dave's current logo

Dave’s current logo

He calls Westport’s sports scene “very vibrant and diverse.” He points to success in so many different sports, and notes that youth sports are “huge. I played Little League and rec basketball. It’s great to see kids are still doing all that.”

Dave has always reached out to high school students. He advises 2 high school newspapers, and consults for a 3rd. He’ll keep doing that, and will also offer opportunities to high school photographers and videographers.

He’s lined up investors, but the business model is based on advertising. He’s developed a very loyal following, and is gratified that advertisers are signing up for “The Ruden Report.”

Readers are sure to follow. After 30 years here, Dave Ruden has developed a distinctive voice. He provides important insights, and a unique perspective on local sports.

Starting in September, it’s all available on a new, 24/7/365 platform.

Remembering Joe Murray

In 1967, Stamford Catholic was the Connecticut high school football power.  Winner of more than 30 straight games, averaging over 30 points every Saturday, they were the prohibitive favorites in the FCIAC championship contest.

No one gave Staples a chance.

Head coach Paul Lane may not even have believed the Wreckers could win.  But he prepared the team well — tactically, physically and mentally — and they were ready.

Joe Murray played a key role too.  A captain, linebacker and offensive guard, his intense spirit, positive attitude and great sense of humor helped convince his teammates they could pull off an upset for the ages.

They did.  On that memorable November day at Stamford’s Boyle Stadium, Staples won 8-0.

“He didn’t have a lot of size,” Lane recalls.  He was about 5-7, 160 pounds — small even for that era.

“But he was a great tackler, a real student of the game,” Lane says.  “He was a real leader.”

“He led by example,” former teammate Tommy Nistico — now the owner of the Red Barn restaurant — adds.  “A wonderful guy.”

“Joe was one tough kid!” marvels another ex-teammate, Nick Albertson — a longtime teacher and coach at Deerfield Academy.

Joe didn’t get a lot of glory.  But without him — and teammates Nistico, Albertson, Bobby Lynam, Buddy Lynch and Brad Steen — there would have been few Steve Booth and Dave Lindsay heroics that year.  Especially that day.

After college Joe moved south.  He became a very successful businessman — he was CEO of several small companies — and a loving father.

He called his former teammates regularly, to check up and make sure his guys were okay.  It’s what a good captain does — long after he stops playing.

He never spoke about any of his own health issues, like diabetes.  He preferred talking about his wife Jean, their children, and hunting and fishing.

Joe Murray died a few days ago in Columbia, South Carolina, from complications during gall bladder surgery.  His ashes will be commingled with those of his beloved dog Blue, and spread across the Gulf of Mexico.

His teammates already miss him dearly.  “He was a special person,” said longtime friend and former Wrecker Bobby Lynam.

“I know his passing has left a hole in your heart as it has in mine.  But as long as we remember him he lives on.”

Don’t worry.  No one can forget that special 1967 championship team — or its heart and soul, Joe Murray.