'Pillar of soccer community' dies from COVID-19 complications
Ted Ruzbasan never played soccer.
Yet he wound up becoming a significant figure in the suburbs' youth soccer scene, spending more than a half-century as a coach, referee and referee assigner. as well as the ultimate soccer dad.
Ruzbasan, 82, of Saddlebrook Farms in Grayslake, died Tuesday due to complications from COVID-19.
His son, Rick Ruzbasan, said his father raised his children in Palatine, before moving to Mundelein and later Grayslake. It was in Palatine that Ruzbasan became involved in youth soccer.
"He had never played a lick of soccer in his life," Rick said of his father, who also worked for 35 years in data processing for Walgreens. "He did it out of the love of a sport that his kids loved."
The elder Ruzbasan began coaching when Rick was 6, and helped guide all four of his sons in the sport, through the Palatine Celtic soccer program.
Assisting him with his soccer duties was his late wife Marylou, to whom he was married for 54 years. They ran one of the area's largest youth soccer tournaments, the Palatine Celtic Cup tourney, every Labor Day weekend.
Ted Ruzbasan and his wife became referee assigners for the Young Sportsmen's Soccer League and Illinois Women's Soccer League. Right up until the end of his life, Ruzbasan was assigning referees for multiple leagues, his son said.
"That was my dad's biggest joy, his referees," said Ruzbasan's daughter, Carrie Schinkowsky, who worked with her father as a referee assignor.
"My dad might have been 82, but he acted more like 70."
Even after his children became adults, Ruzbasan served as president of the Palatine Celtic soccer program, Rick said, out of a dedication to the sport. He also served as athletic director for St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic School in Palatine.
"Mr. Ruzbasan, quite simply, was a pillar in the soccer community. He raised a phenomenal soccer playing family," said Stan Anderson, who operates Camp Shutout, a camp for goalkeepers in Wisconsin and was named the 2018 IHSA Soccer Coaches Association Person of the Year.
"He was such a crucial guy at the state level to go to, and he made things tick," Anderson added. "Those kinds of people are so hard to come by, the brick-and-mortar guys. And that's what he was."
Ruzbasan is survived by his dear friend, Adrienne Schultz; his children, Carrie Schinkowsky, James (Elizabeth Schuett), Richard (Geri), Kevin (Christine) and Dereck (Stacy Schuster); his brother, Marty; his sister, Ellen (Grube); eleven grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
A drive-by visitation is scheduled from noon to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, in the parking lot of St. Mary of the Annunciation Church, 22333 W. Erhart Road, Mundelein. Memorial contributions can be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, PO Box 1000, Memphis, TN 38101.