VINCENNES, Ind. (WAWV/WTWO) – The former Notre Dame football player who inspired the movie “Rudy” spoke with Vincennes University students Tuesday for Student Activities Welcome Week.
Rudy Ruettiger whose true life story was immortalized in the sports movie “Rudy”, shared powerful messages to VU students, faculty, and staff at the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center on Tuesday. He spoke about where he came from, and what it took to be the notable sports hero he is today.
Ruettiger talked about his time in the Navy, and how he used GI bill benefits to study at Holy Cross, and then Notre Dame. At the time, Holy Cross was a two-year school and Ruettiger said that education launched him on a trajectory that changed his life.
“My victory was a junior college because a junior college helped me get to a four-year college,” Ruettiger said. “You get more personal attention, and the professors really care. They believe in you. That is the junior college motto.”
Ruettiger applied to Notre Dame multiple times before he was accepted. He shared how he overcame unimaginable odds as a Notre Dame student and football player in the 1970s from dyslexia, to his 5-foot-6 stature.
However, in the final home contest of the 1975 season, he fulfilled his dream of playing in a game for the Fighting Irish. With time running out, Ruettiger tackled the Georgia Tech quarterback, and he was carried off the field in celebration.
“It took me 27 years to play 27 seconds to make that tackle,” Ruettiger said. “Was it worth it? Absolutely. You don’t have to be good to be somebody. You just have to be passionate and excited about who you are and what you are doing.”
Following Ruettiger’s speech, a long line stretched across the RSPAC stage. Students, teachers, and staff posed for photographs with Ruettiger and got his autograph.