Column: Rudy Soffo is going places

Rudy Soffo has the size, strength, athletic ability and most important the desire to fulfill his athletic goals.

The Grade 11 Notre Dame student-athlete fell in love with basketball at an early age and continues to grow in the sport. His ultimate goal is to play at a college or university.

“That’s my goal to make a team like Red Deer College or try out for the University of Alberta,” said the six-foot-two, 230-pound Soffo.

Notre Dame Cougars coach Stephen Merredew also believes in his star forward.

“It is certainly possible to envision him continuing to improve enough to take his game to the post-secondary level,” he said.

Soffo was born in Cameron and moved to Ottawa in 2004. From there the family moved to Prince George where he got his first taste of basketball.

“I was playing soccer and my older brother introduced me to basketball and I loved it,” said Soffo, who moved to Red Deer midway through his Grade 9 season as his father, a civil engineer, was able to work close to home.

“It was fantastic as I got a chance to play and then play with the senior team in Grade 10,” said the 16-year-old.

“Last year was the first time in my coaching career I took a Grade 10 player,” said Merredew. “But we needed some extra rebounding to improve the team and Rudy fit the bill.”

It was a learning experience for Soffo who worked extra hours, before and after school, to develop into a solid high school player.

“He dedicated himself to constantly improving his game on the court and developing into a true team leader,” added Merredew. “At the beginning of last year his offensive skills needed polishing, but he worked diligently to improve.”

Soffo improved to a point where he made the provincial U16 team last summer.

“It was a great experience. We played in Langley (B.C.) and travelled to Seattle,” said Soffo, who was named the MVP of the Edmonton Grads tournament, which featured provincial teams from Western Canada.

Soffo can dominate a game inside, which was evident at the Leduc High School tournament this year where he pumped in 32 points against Wetaskiwin and was named tournament MVP.

Soffo’s goal is to work on the defensive side of the game … work on his foot speed and lateral quickness. He will do just that this summer with the Central Alberta U18 club team, and next season with the Cougars.

“My focus this summer will be playing with the U18 team. They have a good coach from RDC and it will open up opportunities for me,” he said.

Soffo gives credit to Merredew for a lot of his development.

“He took me in Grade 10 on the senior team and has helped me grow and allowed me to see my potential,” he said.

Merredew believes in Soffo in more ways than one.

“He has grown as a young man,” he said. “Rudy is a great teammate … very coachable, very thoughtful. He asks purposeful questions to help build his understanding of the game which freely impacts his knowledge. He always displays a high level of sportsmanship and is respectful to officials and opposing players.”

Soffo has a younger brother, Allan, who is in Grade 8 at St. Francis Junior High.

Rudy would love nothing more than to be able to work as an assistant coach with his brother, but then that will depend on where he ends up after Grade 12.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter, who can be reached at drode@bprda.wpengine.com.

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