Cree, McCrae win Ruggieri Scholarship
In 1947, the Connellsville Booster Football League was established. Since then, the league has become one of the most established sports organizations in the area.
In recent years, the league, which is a nonprofit organization run by volunteer coaches and assistants, has seen its membership swell to approximately 600 football players and cheerleaders. The league's growth has helped it to give back to the community, which supports it through the Pete Ruggieri Memorial Scholarship Fund.
The scholarship, named in honor of Pete Ruggieri, the first president of the league, is presented annually to a Connellsville senior — or seniors — who will continue their education and play college football.
Zach Cree and Jordan McCrae are this year's winners. Each received a check for $500.
“I think it's great, and I'm glad we're giving out the allotted two scholarships for this year,” league treasurer Marty Russell said. “Next year will be tough because five or six students will qualify. But we're looking forward to that.”
In order to be eligible for the scholarship, a Connellsville senior football player must have at least a 2.5 GPA and played in the Connellsville Booster Football League.
Both Cree and McCrae got their starts playing in the league from kindergarten through seventh grade. McCrae played for the Tri-Town Trojans; Cree competed for the Dunbar Mules.
“To me, this award means a lot,” McCrae said. “To be able to play with my friends and to have been picked for this means a lot.”
McCrae was a running back at Connellsville and will play for California (Pa.). He is undecided on a major but plans on taking classes for homeland security and architecture.
McCrae is thrilled to have the chance to play for the Vulcans.
“They are a really good program, and I can't wait to get out there with them,” McCrae said. “School-wise, I just want to get settled in and make a good group of friends and then possibly fight for a starting position.”
McCrae is spending his summer months working at Hazelbaker's Recreational Services and at Hollister in the Westmoreland Mall.
Cree also is keeping busy by doing maintenance work for the Dunbar Township supervisors. Cree will play fullback at Carnegie Mellon, where he plans to study business. He's thankful for the financial assistance offered by the Connellsville Booster Football League through the Pete Ruggieri Memorial Scholarship Fund.
“It's definitely an honor to win it,” Cree said. “It's nice to know that they support us.”
Cree is hoping that his transition from high school to college is a smooth one when he joins the Tartans.
“They run the same kind of offense that we run (at Connellsville), so that is something that attracted me,” Cree said.
This is the 17th year the Connellsville Booster Football League has awarded scholarship money through the Pete Ruggieri Scholarship Fund.