Ruta Smith

After seven years of professional hockey, four of which were with the South Carolina Stingrays, I decided to retire in March. As the new City Paper cuisine editor, it’s of course surreal to be named Best Local Athlete.

I started playing hockey 25 years ago, and since, it’s taken me all over the world. From Boston to California to Australia, I’ve truly been everywhere, but I made my final and most important stop in 2016. Coming to Charleston completely changed my life, and my time with the Stingrays allowed me to play the game I love in a place that immediately felt like home.

I would be hard pressed to sum up my time with the Stingrays in anything less than a short nonfiction, but thinking back to each game I played this season, I remember the rare feeling that comes with athletic competition. You’re so fully in the moment that all other concerns are pushed aside. This season, the 25 teammates I shared these moments with made each win, loss, save and goal that much more memorable.

My four years with the South Carolina Stingrays and hockey career as a whole were truly a dream come true. Thank you City Paper readers for one last memory. —Parker Milner

Kyle Busey, Surfer