Sandy Ruckstuhl Gridirons recognizes dedication to youth football

Sandy Ruckstuhl Gridirons is located near the Nepean Sportsplex, and next to Minto Field. (Peter Szperling/CTV News Ottawa)

A well-known name in Ottawa’s sports community will have a lasting tribute to carry on his memory.

Sandy Ruckstuhl spent 37 years as President of the Myers Riders Football club.  

Ruckstuhl passed away in 2017, but his legacy will now live on.  An area next to the Nepean Sportsplex has been named "Sandy Ruckstuhl Gridirons" in recognition of his dedication to the community.

"The love of the game, the love of the kids; he did everything he could for the sport, he’s a legend,” says Max Palladino, a family friend and former Riders coach.

"He brought so much football to the city, where he expanded the league into an Ontario program, where we played across - in Toronto. We were also a part of the Quebec league in the Junior level; right across Quebec and Ontario he brought the game," he says.

Palladino was present at the naming ceremony on Thursday, along with Sandy’s wife, Linda Ruckstuhl.

"So surprised, and so honoured," she says, "He lived his life on that field; every night that we were practicing there, he was here, every single weekend of football, he was here."

That time at the field was spent caring not just about the game, but the young players.

"He loved the kids, he joked with them all the time; once they got to know him, he’d be like a magnet to them," Ruckstuhl says.

He had style that was compassionate.

"Very easy-going, very kind; very caring and concerned,” says Ruckstuhl, as well as competitive. "He spent (his life) getting great coaches, great trainers, great volunteers; and, just went at it whole-heartedly, to build the Myers riders up as a very viable team."

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson was also present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Sandy Ruckstuhl Gridirons.

"Sandy’s belief in the foundation of the Myers Rider Club was that kids always came first. Sandy’s passion and his knowledge of the sport, and the success of his players was admired by many," said Watson.

The dedication plaque is located near the Nepean Sportsplex, and next to Minto Field.