Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!


With high school and college football season well underway, there’s no evidence that Daniel Ruettiger ever played a snap in the St. Croix Valley. But thanks to cable TV and the Internet, Ruettiger’s personal drive and passion lives on in a 1993 movie bearing his nickname, Rudy. The feel good movie is likely a must-watch on the eve of any rivalry game.

Ruettiger, of Joliet, Illinois, dreamed of playing college football for mighty Notre Dame in the 1970s but poor grades a small physical frame were barriers. He stood five feet, six inches tall and weighed 165 pounds. That did not stop Rudy. Barriers were overcome by his willingness to make an extra effort. He spent a couple years at Holy Cross College in Indiana, and after multiple rejections, Notre Dame finally granted him acceptance.

There was no athletic scholarship for Rudy, much less academic aid. Hard work in the classroom and a knack for making plays in football practice got Ruettiger a spot on Notre Dame’s scout team. Thirty-five players on football scholarships were ahead of Rudy’s chances of ever suiting up on game day.

The season wore on and Rudy’s hope of playing on game day was rapidly coming to an end. Comfortably ahead, Head Coach Dan Devine finally sent him in with the kick-off team and he remained on the field with the defense in the game’s final plays. Rudy sacked the quarterback as time expired and was carried off the field by teammates celebrating a victory

End of story? Not yet. The son of a steel mill worker, Daniel Ruettiger overcame poor grades caused by dyslexia and obtained his degree from Notre Dame. That’s mighty Notre Dame, the academic powerhouse. Five younger brothers also received college degrees. Later, he ran afoul with the Securities and Exchange Commission and paid a substantial fee as part of his settlement. That personal setback did not deter Rudy. Occasionally he does motivational speaking and is an author.

In every huddle, on every practice field, in every drumline, in every danceline, in every classroom, in every neighborhood, there’s a Rudy. Who will be this season’s Rudy in the St. Croix Valley? Show up and witness it. Or, overcome those barriers and be your own Rudy.

The quote, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up” is attributable to Vince Lombardi, who overcame his own share of obstacles. It puts stories like Rudy’s in perspective.

Here’s to a Rudy who doesn’t know he or she is a Rudy or Ruby. Make it happen. Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!