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Senior Kyle Rauen overcomes setbacks at Ramapo College

Ramapo College men’s basketball player Kyle Rauen has dealt with setbacks since he was very young. In 8th grade, Rauen broke his tibia, but that did not stop him from playing sports while attending Henry Hudson High School. In his freshman year, Rauen played football, junior year it was soccer and he was a four-year varsity player in baseball. He was named high school captain and athlete of the month in 2014-15.

However, Rauen said it was his parents that stressed the importance of education and to work not only hard on the court in the classroom. Rauen also participated in community serve with his local church, helping his father who was a politician with communication campaigning and tutoring kids at a local elementary school.

The ultimate goal for Rauen was to play a college sport, that was basketball. That would be proven difficult according to Rauen, coming from the town of Highlands, located in Monmouth County.

“A small town, limited talent basketball wise and competing against tough teams,” said Rauen. “It’s hard to get noticed but Coach McBreen noticed and brought me in with open arms. I knew coming in would be hard because of all the NJAC Championships and NCAA Tournaments. I knew what I was getting into and trying to learn as much as possible as I could the first couple of years, adapt and make myself a better player and person.”

“Coach McBreen is not just a great coach but mentor as well and taught me many life lessons on how to be a better person and work hard in everything you do and have discipline and keep going. He does a great job of preparing us for each game coming up and knows every single game stat of a player and team. It shows how much he cares about winning and tells us to bring an extra motor and energy.”

Just when it seemed Rauen had overcome the injury bug, a devastating ACL injury forced him to sit out the 2016-17 season where the Roadrunners won the NJAC (New Jersey Athletic Conference) regular season and conference tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.  He was prevented by the training staff from joining in the jubilant celebration when Thomas Bonacum hit the game-winning buzzer beater against New Jersey City University at the Bradley Center in February of 2017.

“One of the worst injuries you can get and being out for the year,” Rauen said. “I couldn’t dive into the pile but you have to make sure you have a positive attitude. When you get knocked down, you get back up and keep working hard no matter what the ups and downs are.”

“As a basketball player you play to win the game, get championships, better yourself as a player and person. Being in that environment like a movie with Tom Bonacum’s absolutely insane shot you could not have pictured it any better way.”

Off the court, Rauen has flourished in the classroom and community service, a major in Business Marketing with a minor in International Business. Last year named to the Dean’s List while earning ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference) Men’s Basketball Spring 2018 Academic Honor Roll. Volunteering for Kappa Sigma that hosts a charity event “Buzz Away Cancer” where hair is sold and proceeds goes to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In addition participating in Leaders in Service from 2015 to 2016.

“An upcoming trend, a lot of business majors on this team past couple of years. The professors at Ramapo have been great, helping you on and off the court and in the classroom and one of the top professors in the business school. It’s great to learn about different applications in the workforce and do a bunch of group work in practices that we would do in upcoming years with our professional career.”

Heading into his senior year, Rauen pointed to the seniors the past two years teaching him so much on and off the court. Even with limited playing time, Rauen has found other ways to contribute to the team.

“Every practice is a huge battle between our teammates pushing each other to get better and prepared for each game coming up. On the bench we are engaged and chanting defense in unison to give our players a boost. During timeouts and at halftime to keep player’s heads up and keep going hard. It’s about showing effort and get that outcome that is to win the game.”

Rauen also gives credit to the athletic department, assistant coaches and Bradley Center. “We have a great athletic director in Harold Crocker who makes sure our athletic facility and programs are top of the line. He does a great job of leading our program, comes in and gives us pep talks and motivational speeches to keep us motivated throughout the season. A training staff that makes sure our players is healthy to go game in and out.”

On the assistant coaches, “One of the best in the country and a lot of people don’t know they have full-time jobs on top of coaching and take extra time out of the day to scout all the teams’ and upcoming schedule and prepare for what  type of plays are running and stats.”

“In my opinion we have the best gym in the Bradley Center, a state of the art facility, well kept and how beautiful it looks. Playing in the environments such as the NJAC Championship absolutely insane and crowd having out backs you could not ask for anymore and we thrive off the energy and unbelievable experience. To play in front of the fans past four years very exciting.”

With the team in the NCAA for a third consecutive year, Rauen is soaking in this year’s experience as well as remembering last year’s Final Four and remaining time left in his last semester at Ramapo College. Rauen is inspired by his older brother who has an associate’s degree from Brookdale Community College, went to the University of Massachusetts in sports management and taking graduate classes at the University of Indiana-Bloomington.

“I have learned the values of hard work, sacrifices and commitment in order to be successful in your passions,” said Rauen. “I’m focusing on applying for jobs, maintaining my grades and enjoying my last semester. I could not have asked for a better experience in my time at Ramapo.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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