KAILUA-KONA — After leading Kealakehe through a rebuilding process over the last couple of years, Teddy Rubenstein was rewarded for his hard work Wednesday morning with a chance to play at the University of Redlands.
Signing on the dotted line to play for the Bulldogs, Rubenstein had a moment to celebrate and reflect as he begins taking that next step to the college level.
“I’m excited for the opportunity. I recognized Redlands had a lot of conference championships and NCAA tourney appearances and that drew me in,” Rubenstein said. “That type of soccer environment is very appealing.”
Hayato Fukumitsu, Rubenstein’s coach at Kealakehe, saw his former captain do all the hard work to make it to the next level.
“He deserves this and it is well earned. He puts the work in,” Fukumitsu said. “I am excited for him to begin that next journey in soccer and in life.”
Along with the Bulls and the Waveriders, Rubenstein also played club soccer with the Kona Crush.
Rubenstein first came to the attention of Redlands while playing for the Honolulu Bulls at the Surf Cup in California last summer, a tournament which the Bulls won.
“Redlands assistant coach Cody Carlson reached out to me after the tournament and said all good things,” Rubenstein said. “I have to give the Bulls a lot of credit. Without them taking me to the tournament this opportunity might not have been possible.”
The Waverider senior had some interest in playing for Saint Mary’s College of California and Point Loma Nazarene University before choosing the Bulldogs. His official visit last October made the decision easier.
“Right away I felt welcomed,” Rubenstein said. “Coach Cody came and found me right away and took me to the office. I took a tour around the campus, and was introduced to a few freshmen on the team and stayed in their dorm. I watched a game the next day and I liked the team’s physical style of play. That is the style I like to play.”
Rubenstein also had a chance to meet with Ralph Perez, who has been the head coach of Redlands since 2006. He has helped the Bulls reach six NCAA tournaments, which includes one Sweet 16 appearance and two Elite 8 visits.
When visiting Perez, the incoming freshman was happy to hear the coach had plans to play right way.
“If I had went to a D-I school I may have had to sit the bench for a while and get some off-field experience first,” Rubenstein said. “I want to play and coach Perez sees me as a starter.”
Rubenstein had somewhat of an up and down career at Kealakehe. During his freshman and sophomore seasons he battled injuries but was able to return to the pitch near the end of his sophomore campaign to help Kealakehe claim a sixth consecutive BIIF title.
But after three-time BIIF Player of the Year Laukoa Santos and several other core seniors graduated, the Waveriders went through a rebuilding process, one that is still taking place, having just finished the program’s first year under Fukumitsu.
However, Rubenstein always looked on the bright side.
“For the team we had my junior year, I didn’t think fourth place was that bad of a finish. That team accomplished a lot” Rubenstein said. “And while we did not win the championship my senior season, it was one to remember. I took more of a leadership role and was able to connect more with the team.”
As of now, Rubenstein plans to major in Biology.
Redlands competes in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs lost in the SCIAC semifinals last season, finishing 13-5 overall and 11-3 in the conference.
“Teddy will do well at the Division III level,” Fukumitsu said. “He has good size and speed. He is strong, smart, and will represent the Big Island and Kealakehe well.”