Batavia goalkeeper Mike Rueffer enters his senior soccer season as one of few familiar faces in the Bulldogs’ program. After graduating all but four members of its Upstate Eight Conference River Division title team, Batavia will rely on a wealth of varsity newcomers in 2012. Rueffer likes what he has seen so far and addressed his optimism while catching up with Kane County Chronicle sports reporter Kevin Druley for this week’s edition of the Weekend Chit-chat. Also a basketball standout, Rueffer further discussed his bustling summer and a likely platoon in goal. The following is an edited transcript:
After a few days of camp now, how are things shaping up for the team?
I think we’ll have a good team again. People probably will be overlooking us because we graduated 16 seniors, but I think we have some good experience and good leaders with the guys returning – John Barnes, Nick Samperi, Ryan Milligan and me.
How did that affect tryouts, the abundance of new guys?
I thought it was pretty competitive throughout. As long as you’re going as hard as you can, there’s really nothing to lose. The coaches just take who they think would be the best fit for the season and who is best for the team.
Were any recent graduates milling about workouts and camps this summer?
A bunch of guys show up. They miss it. They had a bittersweet ending to their senior year, but they’re going to play on and stay busy, and still try to do as much for the program as they can.
What was your knowledge and involvement with coach [Mark] Gianfrancesco before high school?
There hadn’t really been much. I’d known of him through my sister (Batavia graduate Katie) because she played soccer back in the day with a bunch of players who played with him through the girls program. I pretty much started to get to know him more my freshman year, but last year and the year before is when I started talking with him and getting to know him.
There’s not been much rain this summer. How’s the pitch at H.C. Storm [Elementary School, the Bulldogs’ practice site] holding up?
It’s rock-hard. It kills when you dive on it, but that way, when you get to the actual game field it’ll be that much nicer to have. I guess it’s one way to think about it. ... But right now, it’s like running on cement, almost.
Between the Olympics and international leagues, how much does the team follow soccer on TV?
I would say there’s a good following among the younger crowd, but I don’t get the chance to watch it. I won’t go out of my way to watch it, but I know other guys on our team are really into it and seek out those big games.
Did you get much time for R&R this summer?
It’s flown by. I’ve been trying to balance soccer and basketball. I’ve done a lot of basketball, especially with the new coach, (Jim) Nazos. It’s been hectic, but there’s not been very many off days. When I do get them, I definitely use them. It’s pretty much the fastest summer I’ve ever had.
You split time with Ben Steskal last season. Is a similar rotation on the horizon with a new keeper?
We probably are going to split between me and Nick Foster, a junior this year who did real well for JV. ... Which is fine by me. I did that last year, so I’m ready. What they did last year is they tested where we fit better or how we played better. I played better the second half; Ben played better the first half. The first three, four games, they might switch it up. It doesn’t really matter to me. Whatever’s going to benefit the team more.