Carrying A Family Legacy

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DONNA – The green grass of the golf course. No place Jennifer Ruiz would rather be.

She grew up playing golf in Donna and five years ago, she helped start the golf program at Donna North.

“It means a lot to me,” said Ruiz. “I’m able to give back to my community and to give back to kids of Donna.”

After years of playing golf, Ruiz’s perspective on the game took on a new meaning.

“When I started coaching really, that was the moment where I said I love being out here,” said Ruiz.

“She’ll talk to me and be like ‘hey don’t worry about anything else.’ “ said former Donna North golfer Kristi Villanueva.

At six years old, Ruiz’s love of golf started with trips to the course with her grandfather Zavala.

“My grandfather was the one who introduced the game to me,” said Ruiz. “He was really big on golf. Really big. He played on the high school team and went to state with Mercedes. He really just showed me the game.”

Zavala became too ill to join his granddaughter on the course, but for over 10 years, Ruiz stayed by his side at nursing homes.

“Every weekend I was with him,” said Ruiz. “Every holiday break I was with him. When I worked in Edinburg, after work I would eat dinner with him every single day.”

Ruiz’s grandfather’s health took a turn for the worst.

Zavala passed away during the summer of 2017.

It took a while, but eventually, Ruiz returned to the golf course after her grandfather passed. She admits it didn’t feel the same. Over time, walking the fairways and greens helped her get things back to normal.

“I’m not going to lie,” said Ruiz. “It was very hard coming back, but it did help in the healing process for me.”

Ruiz carries on her grandfather’s memory every day at the place he loved the most.

“It’s really great because I really get to share the knowledge that he shared with me,” said Ruiz. “Just about the little things about your character out here. There are really strong morals and characteristics I want my kids to have.”


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