Jamie Ruffner was so much more than a hockey coach in the Bowling Green community.
“Coach was about not just teaching the game of hockey, he was about teaching the game of life, and teaching them how to be men, and how to grow up and give back and be a part of the community” said Betsy Johnson.
Johnson’s son Luke is a Bowling Green High School hockey player. He and other team members painted the high school spirit rock on Tuesday in honor of Ruffner, who died Sunday of cancer.
Betsy Johnson said Ruffner stood for leadership, grit, determination, motivation and loyalty.
“He was the ideal. He’s leaving a legacy here in the BG community,” she said.
Ruffner coached young teams in the community for years and was in his second season as the high school head coach.
“So many people have been touched by him,” Johnson said.
Connor Rogowski, interim head coach for the hockey team, was helping with the painting on Tuesday.
“We want to show support for Jamie and his family, show the impact on the community that he had,” he said. “Our kids want to paint this so it can symbolize the great life and the great coach that he was.”
The news of Ruffner’s death has been tough on the team, he said.
“It’s going to be a process moving forward for everybody, especially the kids. But we’re going to be together and we’re going to continue to work and we’re going to overcome it as a group — just like he’d want us to,” Rogowski said.
Ruffner was Rogowski’s pee wee hockey coach.
“He impacted me then, and the lasting impacts he gave me is the reason I want to be a coach, because I love the way he did it,” he said.
Ruffner and Rogowski joined to rebuild the BGHS hockey team after it was shut down for a year due to low numbers.
“We made a pact and we started a process. We had a five-year process put in place for this team,” Rogowski said. “We started building those, and we built them greatly in the last year and a half.
“We still have a lot of work to do, and my job now is to continue the tradition and the culture that he wanted to build here.”
(Multi-media journalist J.D. Pooley did the interviews for this story.)