Ruschard Dodd-Masters, a Richmond native and De Anza High grad, was recognized Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal for persevering for six seasons in the Arena Football League’s minor league before becoming a quality coach and player with two AFL teams.
“Many players, heck most players, wouldn’t have stuck it out, choosing to do something else with their lives,” the Review-Journal article stated. “Dodd-Masters didn’t. He was determined to play football.”
And Dodd-Masters, at age 33, told the newspaper he wants to continue to play. The 2000 De Anza High graduate shined at UNLV but his NFL dreams didn’t materialize. After six minor league years, he got his break with the Spokane Shock and logged two quality seasons as defensive back and kick returner. In 2012, he played for the San Jose Sabercats and then the following year had another productive season with the Shock.
Last season, it seemed Dodd-Masters could put away his cleats for good and go full-on into coaching. He became the Shock’s defensive backs coach, but then he realized he wasn’t finished playing and returned to the team’s lineup this season. In seven games this year, he has 19.5 tackles, five pass breakups and an interception and averages 18.4 yards per kickoff return, the Journal-Review reported.
On Saturday, Dodd-Masters will return to Las Vegas for the first time since 2006 as the Shock face the Las Vegas Outlaws at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Any time you love something, it comes pretty easy,” Dodd-Masters told the Review-Journal. “I’ve been groomed for this since I was a young gent at 6, 7 years old. Back then, that was our avenue away from the ghetto (in Richmond, Calif.), as the world would call it. It’s my love, so I hold on to it and I cherish it and I do everything possible to stay in shape and keep my abilities and my time where they need to be so I’m able to make the team.”