December 20, 2020 – By NJP
There are some girls high school volleyball teams in New Jersey that just standout, year after year, no matter which seniors graduate. They always seem to have this never ending stockpile of younger players who can step up and perform, and start to build amazing careers of their own. Ruby van der Heide made the Highlanders team as a freshman, which is a statement in itself of her abilities. But her breakout season last year as a sophomore was truly astounding.
The 6’0″ setter had an amazing campaign with 423 assists, 69 digs, 21 kills and 12 blocks for a Northern Highlands team that finished 23-4. She also slammed 44 aces which lead the team. NH loses just two seniors and will once again be battling for best in the state honors. But it was a statement year for Ruby and one that did not go unnoticed. Especially when you combine Ruby’s talent on the floor with superlative academics. You will have the best Universities in the country taking a closer look.
Ruby has a soft touch and extremely high VBIQ. She moves effortlessly on the court and has the confidence of a senior rather than a sophomore. Her height and versatility is a major asset but her mindset and smarts are a perfect compliment to her physical skill.
Ruby made her commitment to Columbia University, the school she will call her home for her post high school education. The Lions finished 12-12 in the Ivy League in 2019, and although she is just a junior, she is set for a special experience in both athletics and academics.
But it will be interesting to see what she can accomplish athletically over her last two seasons of high school and club. She will hopefully have solid opportunities at Northern Highlands to succeed as well as her club team at Digs which gives her access to the top level of play in her age group.
Here is our interview with Ms. van der Heide…
How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?
I have been playing volleyball for a total of six years now, starting off in 6th grade for my middle school team. I was inspired to take up volleyball after my mom recommended I try it in 5th grade. I grew up in a predominately basketball family, with both parents playing collegiate basketball, so volleyball had never been on my mind. But after playing my first year in 6th grade, I immediately fell in love.
What are your metrics/details? Height, position, club team, etc. What’s your favorite position to play?
I am a 6’0” setter and I play for DIGS volleyball club. I actually started my volleyball career playing outside hitter, but in 8th grade I started setting. Since then, my favorite position has been setter, but I occasionally play right side for my high school and club team.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Ruby?
I am a Junior at Northern Highlands Regional High School and will be graduating in 2022. I live in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ with my two sisters and parents. My older sister, Annie, is a senior at Saddle River Day, and my younger sister, Delia, is in 8th grade at our local middle school. Both of my sisters play volleyball, and my little sister plays for DIGS.
Tell us about your NH teammates. Who do you expect will be this year’s standout and up and coming players?
I could not have asked for better teammates at Northern Highlands. This year we have a very strong senior class, with some of our standouts being Esmae Oehler and Athena Georgiades. Athena is an outside/middle/rightside, and Esmae is an outside/middle committed to Muhlenberg. Both made a huge impact on the team last year, and I know they will continue leading the team this upcoming season. Our juniors are also strong players, with two standouts being Abby Chu (Libero/DS) and Emma Lomuti (Outside). Both of them are great players who will be crucial to our team’s success.
You had a super solid breakout season last year as a sophomore. What are your goals for the high school Spring session?
My personal goals for the spring season would be to continue growing a solid connection with all of our hitters and to become more aggressive offensively. I would also like to work more on my versatility playing other positions, especially if I have the opportunity to be a hitter. My team goals would be to make it further in the state tournament and win a state title. We have the talent and potential to be a great team this year, so I do not think a state title is out of reach.
Tell us about your experience at DIGS?
I started playing at DIGS in 7th grade for the 13 Red team. Throughout my years at DIGS, I have played under some amazing coaches, those being Coach Scotty, Cathy, Steve, Heather, Annie, and Bill. DIGS has and is teaching me all the skills to be a successful volleyball player, and I would not be the athlete I am without it. The environment at DIGS is competitive yet welcoming and fun, and my teammates make the experience even better. I am currently on the 17 Red team under Coach Annie Deloid, and so far, our season has gone great. While we have not played many games, our team has a lot of talent and experience. With the guidance of our coaches, I know when we get back to games, we will have a lot of success.
Tell us about your experience at GEVA HP?
I was introduced to the GEVA High Performance program by my coach, Bill Lee. I tried out the summer going into my sophomore year, and made the team alongside my DIGS teammate Jess Spierenburg. Our team consisted of some of the top talent in the GEVA region, and we had great coaches, Bill Doyle and Terrance Simpson. My experience at GEVA was amazing and very eye-opening. We traveled to Fort Lauderdale, where we played teams from all over the country, as well as international teams like Peru. HP introduced me to a higher level of volleyball, where the game was faster and the girls were very skilled.
Who inspires you?
Many people inspire me, but I would say I am most inspired by my parents. I look up to them as they have strong family values, have taught me kindness and respect, and shown me what it takes to be a strong person, both on and off the court. I would not be the person I am today without them.
NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state and we see you have committed to Columbia University to play volleyball in the Ivy League. What were the deciding factors in choosing Columbia?
I went into my recruiting process knowing that I wanted to attend a strong academic school, specifically looking at the Ivy League. I have always been especially interested in Columbia, as its location in the city and its reputation are very appealing. After spending time speaking to the coaches and getting to know some of the players, I knew that Columbia was the place for me. I was able to catch a volleyball game in the fall of 2019, and also looked around the campus this fall with my parents. Between the environment of the team and the amazing school, it was an easy decision to make.
What do you plan to study in college or what is your career aspiration?
I am planning on majoring in psychology. I do not know specifically what I want to be, but I plan on narrowing down my career aspirations as I explore my interests in the coming years.
Who is your support group?
My support group definitely consists of my parents and my friends. My parents are extremely supportive, and they have had my back along every step of my volleyball career. My friends are also my support group. They are always hyping me up and cheering my high school team on.
How are you and your family dealing with current world situation with COVID-19? How did the postponement of the Fall high school season effect your Highlands team?
My family has been trying to make the most out of the COVID-19 situation, while still making sure to stay safe. The postponement of the fall season was, at first, definitely upsetting. However, I knew that it was the safest decision for everyone. Fortunately, my club volleyball season started a little earlier than usual, so I was able to continue practicing.
Who is your favorite college or pro volleyball player and why?
Lauren Carlini is probably one of my favorite volleyball players. She spent four years playing at Wisconsin, competes for Team USA, and is currently playing pro volleyball in Turkey. I admire her for her amazing all-around skills in volleyball, especially her strength and technique in setting.
Is there a teacher or coach who really helped you along the way that you would like to recognize here?
One coach that I would specifically like to recognize here is Bill Lee, one of our coaches at DIGS. Bill has bettered me in so many ways throughout my time at DIGS, and he is still continuing to help me in these times of COVID. Ever since my 15s year, he has believed in my abilities and pushed me out of my comfort zone. With his vast knowledge of the game and passion for the sport, he has helped develop me into the player I am today.