While Schaumburg Boomers outfielder Kyle Ruchim prepares to make some noise in the Frontier League playoffs this week, he's also preparing for his second career in the courtroom.
Ruchim, a Buffalo Grove native who is a graduate of Stevenson High School and Northwestern University, is attending law school at DePaul while also manning left field for the Boomers. After a few years of playing baseball full-time as a professional, being a student-athlete again is a transition that's not foreign to him.
"I wanted to make sure that baseball didn't hinder my growth in life, and the No. 1 thing was to continue to grow academically in something else," Ruchim said.
"I played at Northwestern so that had a big impact on me. Seeing my teammates who are successful in their careers now and doing other things, it keeps me open to the idea that baseball may not be the long-term option for me."
Ruchim enjoyed his best year as a pro this season and credits the team's success with having the right blend of talent, veterans and chemistry.
The Boomers' leadoff man is hitting .315 with 5 home runs and 40 RBI. He also led the league with 83 runs scored. The 25-year-old outfielder has played a big role for the team, which has won a franchise-record 64 games in 2017 and is in the driver seat of the Frontier League playoffs.
"I love baseball, I think it's great. If you're lucky, you can play until you're 25 years old. If you're really lucky until you're 30, and some guys even into their late 30s," Ruchim says. "Even then, there's a lot of life left after that to do something else. That's why I think the law-school route was good for me."
Boomers manager Jamie Bennett acknowledges that some players have a difficult time adjusting to what he calls the "real world" outside of baseball, but he believes Ruchim has what it takes to handle both careers.
"You have guys like Kyle, who is one of those special individuals who can handle both. He's playing pro ball, he's successful at it and helping this team win, but at the same time he has his head on right and is preparing for the future," said Bennett. "When I was playing, I was working on my undergraduate and here he is working on a law degree. It speaks to his maturity and goes to show the kind of work ethic [he] has. That's not easy to do."
Ruchim is keeping an open mind about where his aspirations to be an attorney take him, but hopes to someday work with his father, Mitchell, who is also a lawyer and has a firm in Northbrook.
While he has big plans for his future, Ruchim isn't ready to hang up the spikes just yet. With the Frontier League playoffs set to begin, he's staying focused on the task at hand.
"It'll be a decision I make in the winter about whether I come back or move forward with something else. I still love the game. Ideally, if I could play next summer and then continue with my law career after that, that would be cool. If we win a championship, that's could change a lot of things too."