Congratulations to the first ever winner of the CT RollerGirls Cindy Luberto Scholarship for Woman Athletes, Ashley Russo! Ashley is a current student at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT and a graduate of RHAM High School in Hebron, CT.
Ashley’s personal story demonstrates how important her participation in soccer has been to her. Though she has been a successful athlete, her passion for soccer extends beyond the game.
Thank you, Ashley, for sharing your love of your sport with us. And thank you to the many other applicants. It truly was a difficult decision to choose only one winner out of all of the wonderful personal essays. The CT RollerGirls believe in the importance of celebrating all types of athletes who have a unique passion for what they do, and for whom participation in sports has enriched their lives in a special way.
Here’s Ashley’s story in her own words:
My name is Ashley Marie Rodriguez Russo. People always wonder why my name is so long. Everyone has a story and behind my name, there is one. I was born in the inner city of Bridgeport, Connecticut to a poverty ridden family, a drug addicted mother and a violent father. As a child I was the one to take care of my two younger brothers and find them food to eat. I had no chance at a childhood and saw and did things a young child should not ever have at that age.
No one chooses what families they are born into and I certainly did not choose to become a mother at the age of six or seven. I had a future of failure and that’s how it was in that type of environment. My brothers and I eventually got removed and placed in a shelter where the backyard was less than an acre. It was impossible to play sports.
After being in a shelter and being in foster care, in 2004, my brothers and I got adopted. That adoption changed my life. My adoptive family enrolled me in recreational soccer and from then on, I have not stopped sprinting on the field, taking players on or shooting for goals. Soccer has always been my main sport that I focused on ever since I was the age of eight. From the first day I stepped on that field I felt a sense of relief. I felt relief that I didn’t have to watch for cars to run me over or to have a stranger kidnap me. Twelve years later, I am a female student athlete at Southern Connecticut State University.
I have not let my past hold me back from what I love to do. Soccer has been an outlet for me and to clear my mind of what I have been through. I have had the opportunity to discover that I am a natural athlete. I have a love for the game that I never even knew was possible. My determination to score a goal or to run past a player is all driven by my past. My past has taught me that it can only bring me down if I let it. I have chosen to rise above my past and put my effort into becoming the best soccer player I could be. I was recruited as a Division 1 soccer player but decided to transfer this past spring semester. That choice has been the best choice I have ever made.
Soccer brought me to this Southern Connecticut State University where I have made new friends and have never felt so accepted. Soccer is and always will be my driving factor to be happy in life and that is why it is unique. I came from nothing and now have everything I need in life. This sport is the reason why I have been successful and not let my past dictate my future. Thank you for taking the time to consider me for the scholarship.