By Ed Harris
Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger recently spoke to a small crowd at The Summit at Plantsville, talking about underwear, his large family that includes 13 brothers and sisters, trips to church and goofy thoughts. In the end, everything came together and offered tips on succeeding and getting ahead.
“Get rid of your goofy thoughts,” Ruettiger said. “That’s what is stopping you from being what you should be. Your thoughts control everyting.”
Ruettiger, the former University of Notre Dame football player, has travled the country as a motivational speaker since 1994.
Though somewhat sensationalized for Hollywood, “Rudy,” a hit movie from 1993, follows Ruettiger’s dream of playing football for the Fighting Irish. Ruettiger battled through undiagnosed dyslexia and marginal grades. He served in the Navy for two years and then worked in a power plant for another two years before he decided to chase down his dream at Notre Dame.
Not having the grade to get into Notre Dame, Ruettiger spent several semesters at nearby Holy Cross College. He was finally accepted to Notre Dame on his forth attempt at transferring.
Ruettiger was only 5’6” and 165 pounds at the time, and was far from the ideal for a college football player. However, through hard work and determination, he was able to earn a spot on the practice squad.
Through his perseverance, Ruettiger earned the opportunity to suit up for the final game of his senior season at Notre Dame. During the game against Georgia Tech, Ruettiger sacked the quarterback in the final play of the game
At the conclusion of the game Ruettiger was carried off the field, a rare honor in the team’s history. He was the last person to have been carried off of the field at Notre Dame.
Sine graduation and following the release of the movie, Ruettiger has traveled the world giving motivation speeches. He and his wife have also set up a non-profit organization dedicated to helping others that aspire to fulfill their dreams.
“The message of “Rudy” is valuable,” Ruettiger said. “They believe in, they connect. Struggle is a part of life. When you have struggle it is what you do with it.”