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2023-24 Kevin Higgins College Scholarship Recipient: Ryan Putka

April 11, 2024

Ryan Putka began his rugby career in the third grade for the Westpark Shamrocks in Cleveland, Ohio. With the Shamrocks, he helped lead the team to several city and state championships and a handful of undefeated seasons. Once he advanced to the high school level, he played for Saint Ignatius High School. With Saint Ignatius, he helped the program to three Ohio 15s state championship titles, one national championship title, a national runner-up finish, and an Ohio 7s state championship. He garnered MVP and All-Ohio honors. Following his senior season, he was selected to the USA U18 National Team to compete in the Corendon summer tour to Amsterdam. Ryan also volunteered his time as a Welsh Academy rugby coach. 

“Ryan’s motto would probably best be surmised as ‘Do as I do … not as I say.’ He doesn’t say much. And he doesn’t need to. He normally lets his play and his actions do the talking for him. He’s the hardest worker in the weight room and competes relentlessly at our practices. He expects nothing but perfection from himself. While he doesn’t demand this of his teammates, I think that the guys rally around how hard he works. They raise their level up so as to not let him down. This was most evident in the 2023 National Semi-Final where Ryan’s play and physicality was so sensational that he earned selection to the USA U18 National Team for the summer Corendon Tour,” said Daniel Arbeznik, Saint Ignatius High School Rugby Head Coach. 

Ryan graduated from Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio with a 4.5 weighted GPA. He excelled in the classroom challenging himself to 11 honors and advanced placement courses, and earning a National Merit Commended Scholar honor, AP Scholar with Distinction honors, and placing in the top 5% of his class. Outside of the classroom, he was an active member of his student senate and served as senior class president, organizing student-based community service opportunities, and acted as a liaison between his peers and administration. He was also a member of the St. Ignatius wrestling and football teams. 

He will continue his academic and athletic career at the University of Notre Dame. He will major in computer science and intends on pursuing post-graduate studies. His career goal is to become a software developer for tech giants like Apple or Google. At the collegiate rugby level, he has his sights set on being named to the USA U20 team. Ryan hopes to continue his rugby career at the professional level, whether it be the MLR or overseas. Ultimately, he would like to return to St. Ignatius in a coaching capacity one day.