Our Strategic Vision

SENIOR SPOTLIGHT: For the Love of the Game

The look of intensity on her face is evident, as she peers in from the pitching mound. She rocks back, swings her arm backward, and fires the pitch toward home plate. For Ruby Czeban, a member of BFS’ Class of 2024, it’s not whether the pitch is a ball or strike, it’s the fact that she is playing the game. Make no mistake, Ruby is a fierce competitor, she just happens to love competing in athletics—and she has loved competing at Brooklyn Friends School.

“It’s been my life,” said Ruby, who has excelled for the Panthers’ soccer, basketball, and softball teams for the past three years. “It’s allowed me to make great friends, meet some great people,  and it has really defined my BFS career.”

In practice and during games, Ruby’s positive energy and giant smile are infectious. She is constantly encouraging her teammates, chatting with opponents, and talking game strategy with coaches. Blessed with a maturity beyond her years, Ruby credits her four years at BFS as a major reason she is the person she is today.

“I think BFS has given me the ability to communicate and collaborate with all different types of people and I have learned how to relate to people and really get to know them,” she said.

When Ruby is away from athletics—which isn’t often—she immerses herself in humanities classes here at BFS, with History and English being her favorites. One teacher, in particular, has made a significant impact.

“I have had Vlad for the past two years and he has really helped me find a love for history,” she said “I relate to his calm teaching style, and his class is really a conversation more than a lecture, and I really like that.”

Vlad, who has announced he will be retiring at the end of this school year, has made this impact on many of his students—and players. Vlad Malukoff, who has been at BFS for more than two decades, was the head coach of the 2003 New York State Championship basketball team at Brooklyn Friends. It is not uncommon at all these days to see Vlad pacing the sidelines of the soccer field, or sitting in the bleachers of a basketball game. His teaching style—along with his unabashed enthusiasm for his students—has had a major impact.

“I kind of like that he is leaving with us because it makes it sort of special,” Ruby said. “But it is bittersweet because it means my brother and other students won’t get to have him as a teacher.”

Back on the softball field, earlier this season, Ruby is talking strategy with her affable first base coach. She is clarifying a rule which allows a batter that draws a walk to steal second base on the same play. The rule is simple, although unknown to many, often causing confusion among the defense. Of course, that is the point. When a batter walks, they can continue to second base as long as they never stop and immediately proceed to  second. Once Ruby was clear, she gave a big nod. It did not come up again until the following game—when Ruby executed the play to perfection. It wasn’t about showing up the other team—that is not Ruby’s style at all—it was about competing at the highest level, and being smarter than the competition in the moment.

In about five weeks, Ruby will be making a different kind of walk—across the stage at City Tech during the Brooklyn Friends School commencement ceremony. One thing that will make the day extra special is that her grandmother will be traveling from her home in Canada to attend the event.

“It’s actually her birthday that day,” Ruby said. “It makes me happy that we can celebrate together.”

Canada will be in Ruby’s future, as well, as the soon-to-be BFS grad will be attending McGill University in Montreal this fall. The next at-bat for a student who will be missed in Downtown Brooklyn.

“In some ways I am ready to leave, and in other ways I am very sad,” she said. “To be honest, I try not to think about it too much because it really boggles my mind.”