Ashtabula’s Ruple honored with OAC Bill Nichols Media Award – The Star Beacon

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The urge to write sports happened early on for Kevin Ruple.

The Ashtabula graduate parlayed his love for sports into a 37-year career as Baldwin Wallace’s Sports Information Director.

Ruple, who retired at BW in 2020, was honored with the Ohio Athletic Conference’s Bill Nichols Media Award recently.

The award was created to recognize a member of the media who has demonstrated an understanding and passion for amateur athletics, while covering the students and programs of NCAA Division III and the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC).

For more than 30 years, Nichols worked at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He served as an adjunct lecturer at Baldwin-Wallace University and John Carroll University, as well as several other institutions.

“Bill is a special person and friend,” Ruple said. “When I was SID, I talked with Bill pretty much every day. We went golfing and we didn’t talk about the OAC … we talked about the Cleveland sports teams. He was like a second father to me.”

Ruple is the 14th recipient of the award. He also become the fourth former OAC Sports Information Director to earn the award joining Lenny Reich of the University of Mount Union (2022), Chris Wenzler of John Carroll University (2018) and Ed Syguda of Otterbein University (2016).

Syguda is also an Ashtabula graduate.

“We didn’t really know each other until we became SIDs,” Ruple said. “Ed and my brother, Mark, graduated in 1975.”

Others who have won the Nichols Award included: Plain Dealer columnist Terry Pluto in 2020 and the late Joe Tait, a prominent Cleveland sports and Mount Union football announcer.

“It’s an honor to be considered with those folks,” Ruple said.

He was named the Sports Information Director at BW on March 1, 1983.

Ruple was then promoted to Director of Athletic Communications and PublicRelations in October of 2016 and served in that capacity until his retirement .

During his 37 years, Ruple promoted thousands of student-athletes and was a key advocate of the student-athlete philosophy.

He was an active member of the College Sports Communicators, previously known as CoSIDA. He was a member of the Board of Directors as a College Division representative from 1994-98.

Ruple was also a member of the Academic All-America committee from 1997-2017 and served as the national chair for the football and at-large programs.

In addition, he served as the national coordinator for the Football Gazette Division III All-American committee for 13 years. Ruple was the President of the Ohio Athletic Conference Public Relations Task Force and on both the Sports Media Association of Cleveland and Ohio (SMACO) and the Cleveland Touchdown Club Charities, Inc. Board of Directors.

The Bill Nichols Media Award joins Ruple’s mantle of awards that he received during his career. He was recognized by his colleagues with the CoSIDA Lifetime Achievement award in 2021, the Warren Berg Award in 2004, inducted into the CoSIDA Hall of Fame in 2008 and was the Lester Jordan Award in 2011.

“Working with the student-athletes and the relationships you build were special,” Ruple said. “At one point, we had 27 former SIDs in college athletics in some capacity. These kids have families and their kids are going to college.”

He also had the opportunity to watch his son, Danny, excel in men’s soccer at BW.

Ruple remembers the early days of being a SID.

“I started with the word processer as a student and then intern in The College of Wooster News Services office,” he said. “The very old Smith-Carona typewriter at BW did not have a number one key, so I trained myself to use the same l key as a replacement.”

Ruple started a new career after retiring. He’s an inside sales representative with Electric Merchant Systems.

(EMS) is a leading provider of payment processing and merchant services.

The company works with the Cleveland professional teams.

But whatever job Ruple has held over the years, he credits to his parents, Bob and Virginia, and the people of Ashtabula County.

“They taught us the right way,” Ruple said. “We had grew up on a farm with 3.5 acres and we worked hard. Ashtabula is a very special place.”

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