Truly One of the Top Leaders in the Country, Regardless of Division’
College of Southern Maryland (CSM) Student Life and Athletics Executive Director Michelle Ruble of Cobb Island has been named Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year for Junior and Community Colleges for 2017-18. Ruble will receive the award during the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Conference in June in Washington, D.C.
It is the second time Ruble has been honored with the distinction, having also receiving the title in 2013-14.
“To be nominated by someone in our field that I highly respect, consider a mentor and who runs one of the best athletic departments in the country is an honor all by itself,” Ruble said. “To have my peers support the nomination by voting for me is unbelievably humbling.”
Ruble was nominated for the most recent honor by Tim Drain, assistant vice president for athletics and student life at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas, the previous winner of the award. “I have known Michelle through my dealings with the NJCAA [National Junior College Athletic Association] and NATYCAA [National Association of Two Year College Athletic Administrators]. She is a leader in both organizations, serving as the 2nd vice president in NATYCAA and as the 2nd vice president for Women in the NJCAA,” Drain said in his nomination. “She is truly one of the top leaders in the country regardless of division.
“Michelle is a leader in every sense of the word,” Drain said. “Her work nationally … has given tremendous exposure to the College of Southern Maryland and [CSM’s] athletic program. Her captain roundtable meetings give her athletes a voice in her athletic department. Her desire to improve professionally is only matched by her desire to improve her department and its facilities, and many of her venues have had upgrades in the last few years. She resurrected the school’s athletic hall of fame, which made many of her alumni extremely pleased. And finally, her students succeed on and off the playing arena, which is a reflection of her leadership and values.”
In her role at the NJCAA level, Ruble sees numerous challenges facing athletic directors at community colleges. “From my experience and talking with folks around the country some of the biggest and most universal challenges are declining resources, declining participation of female student athletes and hiring and retaining great coaches who are part-time employees, but who fill the role of a full-time employee,” Ruble said.
To deal with these unique challenges, Ruble has taken on leadership roles in the countrywide conversations about these issues. “I am fortunate enough to serve on the boards of two national athletic leadership organizations and the networking and information sharing has be one of the best experiences for me,” Ruble said. “Bringing ideas back to CSM has been extremely valuable and has assisted with better customer service to our athletes and our coaching staff. I do my best to be the bridge between CSM and our coaches, to help support them and empower them to be the best at what they do. In turn, our athletes are better served, feel supported and ultimately are more successful in the classroom and on the field or court.”
At the heart of Ruble’s work is her conviction that college athletics add value on and off the playing field, both for the athlete and the college. “For the participant, there are life skills that are learned, such as leadership, time management, persistence, goal-setting, communication and managing failure as well as success. For the institution, athletics brings students who may not have attended college otherwise and assists in the areas of marketing and branding as well,” she said.
A student athlete herself at the collegiate level, Ruble was hired as CSM’s head volleyball coach in 1991. She became the college’s athletic director in 2001 and was named CSM’s director of Student Life and Athletics in 2007.
Playing volleyball at Elon University in North Carolina, Ruble was a three-year captain and an Academic All-American. She earned a bachelor’s degree in public and business administration from Elon and a master’s degree from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland (now Notre Dame of Maryland University).
Ruble joined the NJCAA board of directors in 2002 when she was elected Region XX women’s director. She currently serves on the NJCAA Executive Committee, as the NJCAA Finance and Budget co-chair, and on the championship events committee. She has served on the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Executive Committee since 2017.
In addition to being named Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year twice, Ruble was twice awarded the Maryland JUCO Conference Sportsmanship of the Year Award and a recipient of the Maryland JUCO Conference Athletic Director of the Year.
“In my opinion, [Michelle Ruble] is constantly motivated by doing what is best for the student-athlete,” Drain said. “Her work nationally is inspiring to me, and I believe that she attacks each day with the same attitude and integrity that I get to see at our national meetings. That is what separates her and why I am honored to nominate her for this award.”
For information on CSM athletics, visit http://athletics.csmd.edu.