There are freshmen, and then there is Ruth Milne.
In only her first season, the freshman goalie started 27 of 30 games, broke the school record for most saves in a single season and was named to the Big West Honorable Mention team. And she is only getting started.
“Ruth was just getting her feet wet this year,” junior goalkeeper Chelsea Carrillo said. “She is going to be so much better next year.”
Milne has big aspirations for the women’s water polo team next year, including winning the Big West and qualifying for the NCAA tournament — a goal she has been working toward for almost a decade.
The Redwood City, Calif. native started playing water polo when she was just 11 years old, but not by choice. Her father pushed her into it, and she reluctantly agreed. However, she quickly fell in love with the sport and found her niche between the goalposts.
After dominating the club scene for years, Milne went to Woodside High School, where she was the team MVP four years in a row and the CIF Central Section Most Valuable Goalie in 2008. Her efforts earned her a spot on the U.S. Junior National Team, a distinction that began turning the heads of several top universities, including UC Santa Barbara. The incoming freshman eventually chose UCSB because of her recruiting trip, as she connected with the team quickly. And once the season began, her impact was immediate.
Milne averaged over 10 saves per game, had double-digit saves in 14 matches and had a career high 17 saves against Long Beach in the Big West Tournament.
“She was a huge asset this year,” junior utility Kathryn Nelson said. “She’s the best goalie we have had in my career [at UCSB].”
Ruth credits much of her success to a team chemistry that all of the Gauchos believe to be strong.
“We all love her,” Nelson said. “She is a social butterfly.”
Milne is also quite unique. A Harry Potter fanatic, she has the Golden Snitch from the game of Quidditch tattooed on her back.
“[The Snitch] reminds me that no goal is impossible,” Milne said.
Surprisingly, although Milne is a force in the water, she is a self-proclaimed klutz on land. While the team was enjoying a dinner up north in Sacramento, Milne walked through a screen door of the house they were eating at, taking it off its hinges. Everyone was amused, except the homeowners of course.
Although she is a film & media studies major at UCSB, she may have a career in business. When the team had a long downtime in Irvine, they visited the Hurley clothing factory, where Milne bought several items. She then turned around and sold them to her teammates on the bus. She did not seek to turn a profit, but to help her fellow teammates shop.
Milne’s personality also extends to her pre-game rituals. She has a unique warm up complete with her own lunge pattern exercise and music playlist.
A fan of underground rap, Milne listens to a variety of songs before the game, but “I Got 5 On It” by Luniz is a must-listen before every game.
When Milne is not entertaining the team, she is working very hard in and out of the water. And with another year of experience under her belt, there is no reason to believe she won’t be even more dominant.
“She won’t be as nervous [in her second year] and will have even more confidence,” Nelson said.
“She is going to be a brick wall,” Carrillo added.