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Voice Of Authority From Above

November 12, 1998|TRIS WYKES

Downs, distances, players' names--all are regularly botched by well-meaning but inaccurate high school football announcers.

An exception is Rick Ruffinelli, whose carefully measured tones have enhanced the pleasure of watching games at St. Bonaventure High since 1975.

Ruffinelli, 50, owner of a Ventura computer-service company, is not only an institution but a beacon of reliability.

In a quick burst after each play, Ruffinelli recites who ran or passed the ball, who caught it or the intended receiver, where the ball is spotted and the defensive player who made a tackle or pass breakup.

Ruffinelli, with the help of spotter Joe Derse, has delivered the information so smoothly for so long he is known around Ventura for his announcing, which he considers a hobby.

"It's great for the ego," said Ruffinelli, who is not paid for his services. "People stop you and say they appreciate your explaining [penalty calls] and parents are glad you get their son's name right."

Ruffinelli's excellence is a result of diligence. He arrives hours before a game to set up and test his sound equipment, and to double-check pronunciations of players' names and their jersey numbers.

Before kickoff, Ruffinelli says a pregame prayer for friendly competition that has become a St. Bonaventure tradition. During games, he has announced missing children and dogs, the approach of a brush fire and a marriage proposal.

Ruffinelli has announced every St. Bonaventure boys' basketball home game since 1980 and is the announcer at Ventura College football and basketball games.

But his most memorable moments involve St. Bonaventure football, including the Seraphs' Southern Section Division X title run in 1996 and the team's 1977 season finale, when only 11 players suited up.

"There was nobody left on the sidelines but the coaches," Ruffinelli said. "That was the absolute low point."

Ruffinelli, the father of two St. Bonaventure graduates and a former president of the school's booster club, revels in the atmosphere.

"I love sports and it's a great way to stay in touch with the games," Ruffinelli said. "I learn so much more because I have to be attentive to detail. It's an issue of pride for me."

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