10 Questions with Rudy Ruettiger

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SPORTSHOLLYWOOD.COM

“You’re 5 foot nothin’, 100 and nothin’, and you have nearly a speck of athletic ability. And you hung in there with the best college football team in the land for 2 years. And you’re getting a degree from the University of Notre Dame. In this life, you don’t have to prove nothin’ to nobody but yourself.”
–Fortune (as played by Charles S. Dutton) in “Rudy.”

In twenty seven seconds, Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger became the most famous graduate of the University of Notre Dame. (Sorry, Joe Montana.)

Rudy was born in 1948, the third of 14 children. He always dreamed of playing football at Notre Dame, but his school grades were only average–much like his athletic ability. So after graduating from high school, he served in the Navy and worked at a power plant. But when an industrial accident killed his best friend at the plant, Ruettiger was finally galvanized into pursuing his dream–a pursuit that is the basis of the film, Rudy.

At the age of 23, Ruettiger won admittance to Holy Cross Junior College in South Bend. While attending school he supported himself by working as a groundskeeper at Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne Stadium. For three semesters, Rudy sought admission to Notre Dame as a transfer student, but each time he was rejected. Finally, after tests revealed that he had a mild case of dyslexia, Rudy overcame his disability, passed his tests, and was accepted into the university.

Ruettiger again beat the odds and won a spot as a practice player on the scout team, against which the varsity team ran its plays. Though he was not allowed to suit up for actual games, he was finally part of the team. His goal, however, was to play with the Fighting Irish in a real game.

Over the next two years, Rudy won the respect of his teammates and of the coaches, and ultimately his dream came true: On Nov. 8, 1975, he was allowed to suit up for the final home game of his college career… and during the last moments of the game, Ruettiger was put in the game and made the one and only tackle of his football career–he sacked the Georgia Tech quarterback. When the game ended, Rudy’s teammates carried him off the field. He is still the only player in the school’s history to be carried off the field on teammates’ shoulders. (“That’s BS,” Bob Golic, a teammate and friend of Rudy’s, told the L.A. Times. “In 1978, I got a concussion and they carried me off on a stretcher.”)

In 1976, Rudy received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Notre Dame. After that he worked in a variety of occupations–from insurance sales to owning his own janitorial and real estate title companies–while chasing his next dream: to have his story made into a film. But the road through Hollywood would be a lot more difficult to travel than the road through South Bend. It took 16 years.

Finally, in 1993, TRISTAR Productions immortalized Ruettiger’s life story with the film, Rudy, written and produced by Angelo Pizzo and David Anspaugh, the team behind another classic sports film, Hoosiers. Rudy was played by Sean Astin. But Rudy recently revealed in an interview, “Chris O’Donnell had the role. The only reason he wasn’t picked was there was something about Astin at the last moment that changed their mind. I think it was his naive type of appeal. He did a great job.”

Beyond the casting of the lead, there were some dramatic alterations, as well:

In the film, Notre Dame coach Dan Devine is convinced to let Rudy dress for the last game by the players, who all turn in their jerseys in protest when he isn’t on the game list. In real life, “Dan made the announcement that I’d be playing at practice and everybody cheered,” he told the New York Times. Linebackers coach George Kelly added, “There’s no question he was on the dress list. It was posted on Thursday.” According to the Houston Chronicle, Devine was furious about the fictionalized scene. “The jersey scene is unforgivable. It’s a lie and untrue. Coming on the heels of ‘Under the Tarnished Dome’ (a book critical of the university’s football program). I don’t think it’s a very good thing for Notre Dame.”

In the film, Coach Devine is urged to let Ruettiger play by fans and players chanting “Ru-dy” during the last game. In real life, that wasn’t the case. In Devine’s autobiography, Simply Devine, he wrote that it was his idea to dress Rudy for the final game of his college career and also to play him. Devine revealed that screenwriter Angelo Pizzo told him that the plot would only work if he became the heavy. Devine agreed in order to help out Rudy. “I didn’t realize I would be such a heavy,” he wrote. Additionally, the fans didn’t chant his name until after he made his famous tackle on the final play.

In another case of dramatic license, Rudy’s older brother, Frank, constantly mocks his dreams. In real life, Rudy had two big sisters but was the oldest boy in a family of 14 children, none of them named Frank. That character, Ruettiger told the New York Times, is a composite of “everybody who ever discouraged me.”

The groundskeeper played by Charles S. Dutton wasn’t a real character. Rudy told the Pigskin Post, “He was a composite, but that was reality. And that’s what happened in my life…all through my life. I would encounter people like that and they would help me get through the tough times through their wisdom and their encouragement.”

On the set every day of production, Ruettiger served as a consultant and appeared in the film as a fan in Knute Rockne Stadium.

“It has a freshness and an earnestness that gets us involved, and by the end of the film we accept Rudy’s dream as more than simply sports sentiment. It’s a small but powerful illustration of the human spirit.”
–Roger Ebert on “Rudy.”

The film won strong reviews, including “Two Thumbs Up” from Siskel and Ebert. Rudy’s story went from being an anecdote for old-time Notre Dame fans to a cherished American fable.

Rudy was once again a celebrity. He even found himself in the White House, watching his movie with President Clinton, Joe Montana and Colin Powell.

“That’s pretty exciting,” Rudy recently said. “All I did was make a tackle. Think about it, you know? I didn’t win any super bowls, I didn’t become the president, I didn’t win any wars… I never quit.”

Today the film is a cherished classic — and nobody loves the film more than Rudy: Not long after the movie came out, the Los Angeles Times reported that he had seen the movie 26 times. And Newsday, after Rudy’s 24th viewing, reported he “cries every time.”

TEN QUESTIONS

SportsHollywood: What films have inspired you?

RUDY: Rocky, Field of Dreams, Hoosiers, all those movies where the underdog is going against the stream. The characters use their imagination and embody the human spirit. I got inspired by the movie Rocky. I probably ate 100 raw eggs after seeing that movie. Unfortunately I got sick, but it wasn’t the eggs that were inspirational, it was his attitude.

SportsHollywood: Do people chant your name a lot on the streets or in supermarkets?

RUDY: You know, I don’t really get recognized unless I’m doing an interview or something like that. People don’t really know what I look like. Once they do recognize me, then yeah, they will cheer and stuff.

SportsHollywood: When you were pitching the project around town, what actor did you see playing yourself before Sean Astin was cast? Stallone?

RUDY: It was a very difficult search because we had to find an actor who could not only relate to the audience but win them over. I knew it had to be Sean from the beginning. I had followed his career, I’d seen Goonies, Memphis Belle, and had pictured him in the part as I wrote it. I had the movie planned out in my head before it was even in production. There was no other guy.

SportsHollywood: After Rudy was screened at the White House did President Clinton, Colin Powell and Joe Montana lift you up on their shoulders and chant “Rudy! Rudy”?

RUDY: Uh, I don’t think they would do that. They all really liked the movie. It was very exciting to see it with them. The Clintons said that “every kid in America should see this movie.” Joe Montana was a teammate of mine, I’m really proud of that.

SportsHollywood: Cast members Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau went on to do Swingers. There seem to be parallels in the two films–a young man following a dream, losing his home and his girlfriend as he follows the dream, but ultimately overcoming adversity to become a better, stronger person. Do you think the films are similar?

RUDY: Yes. Swingers was like John’s life, bucking the odds to get to Hollywood. Rudy was John’s first movie, and Vince and he got breaks after it. They wrote the screenplay after being in Rudy, then had the producer help them get it made. There are lots of parallels between John’s and my life–taking a challenge and going up against the odds.

SportsHollywood: Bigger challenge: Playing for Notre Dame or developing a movie?

RUDY: The movie was definitely the bigger challenge. You see I always knew I could get into Notre Dame. With Hollywood there was that element of uncertainty. It’s a tough business to get a story made, especially your own. It took ten years before it was made.

SportsHollywood: Which was more satisfying: Being carried off the field at Knute Rockne Stadium or getting “Two Thumbs Up” from Siskel and Ebert?

RUDY: Well, both were satisfying for different reasons. In both cases I had faced a challenge, had overcome obstacles. At Notre Dame to be carried off is a real honor, and it was a wonderful feeling to know I accomplished my goal, was a success. In terms of getting two thumbs up it’s a totally different thing. There it was an honor too, in the sense that those guys are critical and their support and approval meant acceptance for me and my story. Both meant a lot… but to pick which was better… probably Notre Dame.

SportsHollywood: What’s your next goal?

RUDY: Oh, we’re accomplishing them as we speak. We have started the foundation, we’ve got Rudy camps, and we are starting to give out scholarships. We target kids who have the drive and the talent but don’t necessarily have the means to accomplish all that they want to. And not all the kids are athletes, these are kids with heart who need a little help to overcome adversity and face the obstacles in front of them.

SportsHollywood: Can you envision Rudy, Part II?

RUDY: No. What would be part 2? That was a true story. That was it. It’s not like Rocky where they can create story lines for parts 2,3,4…

SportsHollywood: What athlete playing today reminds you the most of you?

RUDY: Wow. That’s a tough one. I have never thought about it in that way, in comparison to me as a person. I view athletes instead in terms of attitude. There are lots of people out there that are Rudys in some way or other. A “Rudy” is someone who is persistent, who has desire, determination. It’s how they put the light on the message, how the individual treats adversity. It’s the contribution, commitment to their dream. They say today, you know, “Be Like Mike.” But I don’t pin down stars as mentors like so many people today want to do. Just because they play a sport doesn’t mean that they have the rest of themselves together. What if you’re 5’4″? You’re not going to be like Mike on the courts, but you can be like him in the way he plays with the team, the way he treats his wife, his kids and his fans. That’s how you should see athletes, those with heart should be the mentors. I think if there is someone I’d want to hang with, it would be Randall Cunningham. He’s a family man, has had adversity, he’s a team player, a good guy.

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger

Today, Rudy is a motivational speaker, entertaining corporate audiences, school children, university students, and professional athletes all over the country. He recently established the RUDY FOUNDATION, whose mission is to benefit children’s advocacy programs.

Rudy’s books, tapes and videos are available through RUDY INTERNATIONAL in Henderson, Nevada. Remember to ask for “Ru-dy! Ru-dy! Ru-dy!!!” (http://www.rudyintl.com/)

Interview by Alexis Ritchie.

B.R.A.K.E.S. dinner, golf tournament scheduled for Charlotte

NHRA.COM
Tuesday, September 04, 2012

For the fifth consecutive year, B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) will be inviting many of the brightest stars from the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, the fans who follow them, and supporters of this lifesaving 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to gather for the B.R.A.K.E.S. Benefit Dinner at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Concord, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13.

The dinner will follow the organization’s annual golf tournament earlier that day.

This year, the dinner will feature an added touch of Hollywood: The special guest speaker will be Rudy Ruettiger, whose life story inspired the motion picture Rudy starring Sean Astin. The movie depicts Ruettiger’s repeated attempts to fulfill his dream of playing for the University of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish football team despite his small size and lack of athletic skills. Eventually, he wins the admiration and respect of the team for his hard work and dedication and gets the opportunity to play in the final game of his senior year, much to the delight of his teammates and Notre Dame fans alike. Now an inspirational speaker, Ruettiger is a natural choice to address those attending the B.R.A.K.E.S. affair.

“We think it’s going to be a sensational evening,” said Doug Herbert, B.R.A.K.E.S. founder and popular star of NHRA and IHRA Top Fuel racing. “Everyone will enjoy hearing what Rudy will be sharing with us, and at the same time, drag racing fans will be able to socialize and sit next to some of the NHRA’s best-known drivers, legends, and team owners. We are really looking forward to what we think will be the best Benefit Dinner we’ve had to date.”

A silent and live auction including sports and entertainment memorabilia, several special travel getaways, and a host of unique items to benefit B.R.A.K.E.S. will also be part of the evening’s program.

A cocktail hour is scheduled for 6 p.m., and dinner will be served at 7 p.m. Tickets are $150 per person.

Earlier that day, NHRA stars will be going rounds of a different kind as they join their fans at beautiful Rocky River Golf Club adjacent to zMAX Dragway for the B.R.A.K.E.S. Benefit Golf Tournament.

All NHRA fans and those looking to help support B.R.A.K.E.S. are invited to take part in this upbeat fundraising event, in which they can play side by side with their favorite NHRA drivers.

“This is the kind of event that benefits everyone in some way,” said Herbert. “The drivers get a chance to have some fun and get to know their fans a little better, the fans have a golden opportunity to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the proceeds will help B.R.A.K.E.S. continue its efforts to teach young drivers safer and more conscientious driving skills.”

Many of the NHRA’s brightest stars are expected to participate. Awards are planned for the first-, second-, and third-place finishers, and contests for Closest to the Pin, Hole in One, and Longest Drive will be held. Lunch will be provided, and shuttle buses will be in service from the Embassy Suites Hotel and zMAX Dragway to Rocky River Golf Club.

The event will conclude with the 5th annual B.R.A.K.E.S. Benefit Dinner at the Embassy Suites Hotel; details will be coming soon.

The golf-tournament entry fee is $100 for a single player or $400 per team, with foursomes available. Professional drivers will enjoy complimentary registration.

“I hope everyone will set aside that date and come out for a great game of golf on a truly outstanding course,” added Herbert. “We’d like to see a big turnout and find out if these racers can swing a club as well as they can get down a racetrack.”

For more information on B.R.A.K.E.S. or to make a tax-deductible donation, log on to www.putonthebrakes.com.

Football film ‘Rudy’ to be screened Thursday night

WESTPORT-NEWS.COM
Published 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, September 11, 2012

“Rudy,” the feel-good film about an undersized, underdog football player who finally gets onto the field at the University of Notre Dame, will be screened Thursday evening, Sept. 13, in the Staples High School auditorium.

The show is scheduled at 6:30 p.m., just one night before the Staples football team opens its 2013 season under new lights at Staples Stadium.

Tickets for the film are $10 and benefit the Westport Cinema initiative, which is raising money to open a movie theater downtown. Tickets are available online and will be sold at the door.

The movie is sponsored by the Staples Gridiron Club, which was founded in 1993 — the year “Rudy” was released.

The film stars Sean Astin in the title role. It was No. 24 on ESPN’s 2005 list of the 25 greatest sports movies of all time and ranked 54th on the American Film Institutes 100 most inspiring films.

The movie is based on the real-life character Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, an undersized high school football player in blue-collar Jolliet, Ill., who harbors the unrealisitic dream of playing college football at Notre Dame.

He has neither the size nor skill to interest the Fighting Irish football program and neither the grades nor money to attend as a regular student.

But after working in a steel mill, then going to junior college, overcoming dyslexia and getting a part-time job at the Notre Dame stadium, he finally squeaks into the university as a transfer student.

Against all odds, he makes the practice squad — essentially as a human tackling dummy.

For the last game of his senior year, Rudy finally is allowed to suit up and gets his chance at the very end of the game.

To buy tickets online or for more information, visit www.westportcinema.org.

John Dudley: Sometimes inspirational Rudy is inspired, too

GOERIE.COM
John Dudley
PUBLISHED: SEPTEMBER 14, 2012 12:01 AM EST
UPDATED: SEPTEMBER 14, 2012 12:24 AM EST

Rudy Ruettiger — yes, the “Rudy” — looked out his hotel window at 77th and Broadway in Manhattan last week and saw something he recognized. Across the street was Ladder 25, the New York Fire Department company that was among the first on the scene following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Ruettiger scooped up a copy of his book — “Rudy’s Insights for Winning in Life” — and headed over to the firehouse, where he figured he would offer up a gift and humbly pay his respects to a group of men whose bravery astonished him.

Instead, he was surprised by the hero’s welcome he received.

“One of the guys saw me and came running up the street,” Ruettiger said. “He said, ‘Are you Rudy? The Rudy?’ And they invited me to dinner with them.”

Since his turn in college football’s spotlight making a lone tackle in a 1975 game as a walk-on player for Notre Dame, Ruettiger has met famous football coaches and famous U.S. presidents alike, been awarded an honorary doctorate degree, received a governor’s proclamation and been inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame.

When he’s put on the spot, though, and asked what moments really stay with him, it’s the ones like those he shared with the men from Ladder 25.

“That’s the core of America,” said the man whose eponymous movie portrayal struck a chord with everymen everywhere. “Too many times we close our eyes to the little guy who contributes so much.”

Ruettiger is back in Erie tonight for a sold-out event at Lake Shore Country Club. He also will speak on Saturday at the Wesleyville Iroquois Lawrence Park Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

In both cases, his message will focus on what’s possible when someone with a modest head start in life meets an opportunity and seizes it.

In other words, when someone does what Ruettiger himself did when he turned a moment of fame on a football field into a lifetime gig, inspiring others to try and follow in his footsteps.

“It’s a message of hope, of daring to dream and not being afraid to fail,” Ruettiger said.

And it stays fresh because of his ability to read a crowd and respond, and to learn something from every stop along the way.

During a previous trip to Erie, he says he figured out quickly what a loyal and passionate fan base perseveres here for Notre Dame in general and the school’s football program in particular.

“There’s a deep appreciation factor for (Notre Dame) here,” he said, “a true gratitude.”

As Rudy the brand, Ruettiger has becoming a multinational force with a big website offering inspirational products, including videos and posters. He was scheduled to throw out first pitches at three major league parks and attend the upcoming Notre Dame-Michigan game over the span of a week or so, while doing appearances in between.

But Rudy the story is a simple tale of a kid from Joliet, Ill., who became the most famous of his parents’ 14 children because he never believed doing something was impossible.

Once in a while, he’s asked about whether he ever considered following any of his nine brothers into coaching. He briefly served as a graduate assistant at Notre Dame and, after all, sometimes the best coaches are players who weren’t stars.

“I saw something I wanted to do more,” Ruettiger said. “I wanted to coach everyone, not just a football team.”

JOHN DUDLEY can be reached at 870-1677 or john.dudley@timesnews.com. Follow him on Twitter attwitter.com/ETNdudley.

Sports Icon Rudy Bares All in Autobiography

GONZALESINQUIRER.COM

Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2012 2:51 pm | Updated: 3:37 am, Fri Sep 14, 2012.

(NewsUSA) – We all know the story of Rudy, the undersized legend whose fierce desire to play football for Notre Dame made him one of the school’s most famous graduates in history. Rudy has the kind of tenacity you can’t help but admire. That’s the thing about underdogs, they never give up.

Now that the 1993 movie “Rudy” from Tristar Productions has been immortalized on the shelf as a beloved classic, Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger shares the real, no-holds-barred, story in his autobiography “Rudy: My Story.”

If you think you know the man who sacked the quarterback in the last 27 seconds of the game as fans chanted his name, you likely only know the Hollywood sports icon. But the book shows the story behind the man — Ruettiger’s childhood and his motivations, his failures and successes.

He was the oldest son of an oil refinery worker in a strapped family of 14 children. It wasn’t the kind of childhood that encouraged ambitious goals, but Rudy’s dreams rose out of his modest home on the outskirts of Chicago. Those dreams took him from the clutches of despair to the glory of being a Notre Dame walk-on. He was carried off the football field on the shoulders of his teammates. But it wasn’t all easy living from there.

Although Ruettiger is an inspirational hero who showed us how pure integrity and perseverance always triumph, his autobiography goes behind the scenes to reveal a regular guy. Ruettiger now uses the mistakes he made and the lessons he learned to motivate audiences across the country as an inspirational speaker.

As one of the most popular speakers in the U.S., Ruettiger reminds us how humble fame is born out of dire conditions. Fans and Midwest locals know that talk of Notre Dame means talk of the legendary Rudy — one of the most illustrious universities in America still celebrates an average Joe from Joliet, Ill.

But anyone who reads “Rudy” the book will learn more than that. They’ll learn of a little boy’s growing love for the Fighting Irish as he watched them at night on TV.

“Growing up in the Midwest, you start hearing about this place called Notre Dame before you can talk. It’s a Catholic thing. You weren’t even sure what college really meant, but the idea of it, the myth of it, the legend loomed large: If you were Catholic, you automatically had this dream of Notre Dame planted in your head. And if you went to Notre Dame, you were somebody.”

“Rudy,” of Notre Dame fame, throws out first pitch Thursday

The Baltimore Sun
By Childs Walker
The Baltimore Sun
1:13 p.m. EDT, September 13, 2012

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, the former Notre Dame football walk-on who inspired the movie “Rudy,” threw out the first pitch of the Orioles’ game against the Rays on Sept. 13. (Joy R. Absalon, US PRESSWIRE / September 13, 2012)

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, the Notre Dame football walk-on immortalized in the 1993 film “Rudy,” threw out the first pitch before Thursday afternoon’s Orioles series finisher against Tampa Bay.

Ruettiger’s nephew John Ruettiger is an outfielder in the Orioles’ minor league system. He batted .280 and stole 28 bases at three stops this season.

The runt-sized Rudy Ruettiger recorded a sack on the final play of the final home game of his senior year in 1975.

Graham Couch: It’s easy to wonder ‘what if?’ Kelly landed at Michigan State

12:38 AM, Sep 12, 2012

MSU football: Dantonio talks Notre Dame, rivalry, …: Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio talks Notre Dame, the importance of the rivalry, and the do-it-all running back Le’Veon Bell. Paul Henderson|LSJ.com

SOUTH BEND, IND. — This didn’t look like the same Brian Kelly. It didn’t sound like him, at least.

Only so much can be learned from listening to a football coach answer questions for 45 minutes.

But I’ve never heard Kelly speak without humor, at least a hint of arrogance and an often unflattering honesty, with no apologies for any of it.

Until Tuesday.

Perhaps that’s what Notre Dame does to a man. It’s one of those places with lunacy in its following — its fan base, the media folks attached at the hip, the real “Rudy” Ruettiger.

I’ve always thought Kelly could tame it, brush off the scrutiny, as he did with what little he faced, comparatively, at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan and Cincinnati.

I couldn’t help but wonder if Kelly’s dream job, as he’s called Notre Dame, was nothing like his dreams. If during weeks like this, when his program is traveling to face Michigan State, he doesn’t wish he had been the choice six years ago to be the boss at Spartan Stadium.

So I asked him.

“You know, that was so long ago for me and my brain is full of so many different things now,” Kelly began. “I think if I’m on a golf course in Michigan and making the turn and having a hot dog, maybe I would think about it. But other than that, I’m focused on what I’m doing right here.”

The old Kelly would have answered differently, even if it ticked off a few Irish loyalists.

It’s an interesting thought this week, as Kelly makes his second trip to East Lansing in his third season with Notre Dame.

What if Kelly, instead of Mark Dantonio, had gotten the MSU job? It’s entirely plausible. He was a finalist and among the trendiest names in coaching in 2006 after turning around CMU.

This isn’t a question of regret for MSU. Dantonio’s 46-22 record is the best start by a Michigan State coach since Biggie Munn.

It’s more of a “Back to the Future”/“It’s a Wonderful Life”/“Groundhog Day” proposition.

We’ll never know if Kelly would have won at such a pace at MSU. He’s 18-10 at Notre Dame after winning 34 games in three years at Cincinnati, where he took Dantonio’s place.

He’s won everywhere. His way.

“When I decided to coach Cincinnati, I didn’t take the job thinking I’d get total buy-in (from the players) on the first day,” Kelly told me in 2006, less than a month after leaving CMU. “I never concerned myself with anything but who I am.”

On that day, in a hotel lobby in Toronto, before the Bearcats played in the now-defunct International Bowl, the Cincinnati sports information director looked as if he’d been hit by a tornado.

Dantonio, Cincinnati’s SID said, didn’t care if he never did an interview. Kelly wouldn’t stop talking.

In East Lansing, Kelly would have found tougher questions and more attention, but not like at Notre Dame. Not as constantly.

Beyond the contrasting personalities and regardless of wins and losses, MSU’s recent football history at quarterback — and probably elsewhere — would be very different

Kirk Cousins? You’d have never heard of him. He wouldn’t have been offered a scholarship under Kelly.

Keith Nichol would have been the household name, instead. He never would have reneged on his verbal commitment to MSU to sign with Oklahoma. Kelly’s spread offense fit him too well.

With Nichol in the fold, there would be no need or place for Cousins in that recruiting class.

These days, Cousins and Dantonio are the public faces of the resurgence of Spartan football.

It’d be strange if we didn’t know them.

Of course, if things had been different, things would be different.

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger Speaks at Pace University

WeAreMovieGeeks.com
September 10, 2012

The fans are in the seats, the fields have been lined in white and the players are ready for some football action. Can’t you smell it in the air? The early days of Fall are here and we’re in the thick of the hallowed football time of year – high school, college and NFL. WAMG is counting down our 35 favorite football films you need to see before the kickoff of pigskin season. It’s never too early or too late to talk the sport loved by fans everywhere. Many of these true stories can be found on DVD, Blu-ray and Video On Demand. Let us know in the comments section below how you would have ranked your favorite football movies or if we left any on the sidelines.

1. RUDY

“You’re 5 foot nothin’, 100 and nothin’, and you have barely a speck of athletic ability. And you hung in there with the best college football players in the land for 2 years. And you’re gonna walk outta here with a degree from the University of Notre Dame. In this life, you don’t have to prove nothin’ to nobody but yourself.”
Rudy tells the true-life story of Dan “Rudy” Ruettiger, a kid with a dream to play football at Notre Dame, despite the fact that he had neither the grades nor the athletic ability for such a feat. But that didn’t stop Rudy. After years of obstacles and very little encouragement, he proved that with dogged determination, miracles can happen and dreams can come true.

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger to Keynote Affiliate Summit West 2013

by SHAWN COLLINS on SEPTEMBER 10, 2012

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger will be a keynote speaker at Affiliate Summit West 2013 on Monday, January 14, 2012 at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger carved his name into history books at the University of Notre Dame in just twenty seven seconds. The son of an oil refinery worker and third of 14 children, Rudy rose from valleys of discouragement and despair to the pinnacles of success.

It took years of fierce determination to overcome obstacles and criticisms, yet Rudy achieved his first dream – to attend Notre Dame and play football for the Fighting Irish.

As fans cheered RU-DY, RU-DY, he sacked the quarterback in the last 27 seconds of the only play in the only game of his college football career.

He is the only player in the school’s history to be carried off the field on his teammates’ shoulders.

In 1993, Tristar Productions immortalized his life story with the blockbuster film, Rudy. The critically acclaimed film received “Two Thumbs Up” from Siskel and Ebert and continues to inspire millions worldwide.

Rudy has co-authored several books, including Rudy’s Insights for Winning in Life, Rudy’s Lessons for Young Champions, and Rudy: My Story, which was published in September 2012.

He has also established the Rudy Foundation, whose mission is to help children of all ages around the world reach their full potential. The Rudy Foundation develops and supports programs that positively impact the lives of children cognitively, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Rudy comes to Towson

The real Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger visited Towson as part of the Fall Pep Rally. The real athlete behind the famous “Rudy” movie convinced Towson’s football team to share with the Tiger faithful its pregame chant.

Underdog ‘Rudy’ still inspires others, hopes to help students realize potential

Hopes to help students realize their potential
12:13 AM, Sep 6, 2012

Daniel Ruettiger, left, presents Will McVeigh, a member of the Pace University football team, with a photo while speaking on Wednesday. / Seth Harrison/The Journal News

Daniel Ruettiger, left, presents Will McVeigh, a member of the Pace University football team, with a photo while speaking on Wednesday. / Seth Harrison/The Journal News

PLEASANTVILLE — As Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger greeted the crowd at the Goldstein Health, Fitness and Recreation Center on Wednesday at Pace University, he apologized.

Ruettiger’s flight from Baltimore to New York, normally a 45-minute trip, took 10 hours.

“If I look tired, I am,” Ruettiger told the crowd.

The speech was part of a tour for his newest book “Rudy: My Story.”

Ruettiger gained worldwide fame when his journey as a walk-on for Notre Dame’s football team was documented in the 1993 film “Rudy”.

For 30 minutes Ruettiger spoke to the crowd of approximately 300 about being willing to dream and not taking things for granted.

With most of the attendees students at the university, Ruettiger touched on the cost of going to college and making it worth their while.

“Be accountable for your investment,” Ruettiger told the group. “Education isn’t about education, but about inspiration.”

After a short question-and-answer period, Ruettiger signed copies of his book that details his life before, during and after the film.

“The book is written so hopefully people will learn lessons and get a purpose,” Ruettiger said before his speech.

“There was never a book written about the movie or how the movie was made or the real story of how I got to Notre Dame, so we put it all in there.”

Ruettiger feels the book will attract not just a fan of the movie, but anyone looking to be inspired.

“The book is also for the underdog type of person,” Ruettiger said. “We all go through this. You don’t just roll out of bed and not have issues.”

The epitome of an underdog, Ruettiger said he hopes to help the students realize the potential they have within themselves as opposed to lecturing them.

“It’s more discovery,” Ruettiger said of his talks. “You never want to tell someone what to do.”

As expected, many of the attendees were there to see the legend from the big screen in real life.

“The movie and the story, that was the reason we came,” said Suzan Dapolito of Matawan, N.J. “It’s such an inspirational story.”

The 64-year-old Ruettiger admitted he still doesn’t know what he wants to do.

“Some already know what they want to do; some want to be doctors or accountants because they think that’s what their parents are doing and that’s what they’re told, and we have to be somebody,” Ruettiger said. “But what’s you’re dream?”

‘Rudy My Story’ book released

Notre Dame football underdog story

Updated: Wednesday, 05 Sep 2012, 2:46 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 05 Sep 2012, 2:46 PM EDT

‘Rudy My Story’ book released

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – In 1993, the film Rudy became one of the all time great underdog football stories ever told. Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger has now released his book called, Rudy My Story. Rudy joined Chris Reckling on The Hampton Roads Show to discuss his life, the book and the movie.

Jay Leno surprises Tony Bennett’s 80th Birthday Tribute and Fundraiser – raised over $300,000.00 for Jr. Tennis Foundation

VEGASTENNIS.COM

“Mothers Day Weekend with Tony Bennett, Mike Agassi, Rita Rudner and friends” is presented by The RBC Capitol Markets Corp and being held at The Stirling Club inside Turnberry Place, May 12-14th.

Four years ago Frideric Prandecki was out till 4am on school nights partying with friends. For the last 3 years he changed all that through tennis, training from 6-8am, and again 4-7pm daily. This year he made Jr. David Cup for the 2nd time, beat the #20 player in the nation and is being offered numerous scholarships to college, all because this junior tennis foundation offered him an alternative.

JAY LENO, MIKE AGASSI, “RUDY” Ruettiger, RITA RUDNER, FRANKIE AVALON, PHYLLIS MCGUIRE Celebrated Tony Bennett’s 80 years of excellence at VegasTennis.com’s Marty Hennessy Jr. Tennis Foundation’s Annual Fund raiser at The Stirling Club in Turnberry Place, and by doing so raised over $300,000.00 to “Change kids lives through tennis.”

The “TONY BENNETT MOTHERS DAY WEEKEND” for charity included a celebrity Pro/Am at The Stirling Club, Saturday May 13, with a fashion show luncheon and comedy skit by Rita Rudner. The main event was that evening, a tribute Dinner and fundraiser for Tony Bennett’s 80th Birthday. Sunday Mothers Day was celebrated by participants with an elegant “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” in the famed jewelry store at the Bellagio, prepared by Celebrity Chef Michael Mina.

The highlight of the weekend was the dinner when Jay Leno, acting like a waiter, surprised Mr. Bennett and guests by bringing out the cake.

“Tony Bennett is the nicest guy in the world. When I was just starting, he was so good to me,” said Leno to the crowd that raised over $300,000.00 for VegasTennis.com’s Marty Hennessy Jr. Tennis Foundation.

A close second memorable moment was Mike Agassi giving Tony Bennett the Mike Agassi “NO QUIT” Award, a slogan that has followed Mr. Agassi since Marty Hennessy and Ryan Wolfington created a national tournament called just that.

One of the parents stood up after the auction saying, “You guys have no idea what a tremendous effect your donation is having on my daughter. My husband and I knew we could not support her tennis financially, but it was something she wanted to do. Because of you she will be able to play tennis.”

The Foundation kicked off a “TONY’S KIDS” campaign to get 80 scholarship sponsors for 80 children by Tony’s 80th Birthday, which is August 3, 2006. The scholarships cost $650.00 per child, and at the Fundraiser they already raised the money for 53 of the 80 scholarships.

Jeff Taylor and RBC Market Corp. Director, Jason Spacek, Chaired the event bringing participants in from Florida, New York, New Mexico, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and more. The room was filled with Stirling Club members and Nevada dignitaries such as City Councilman Larry Brown, who received VegasTennis.com Man of the Year award, with Fred Darling and Tennis Channel Founder Steve Bellamy. Lt. Governor Lorraine Hunt was there to present a proclamation from the State, and Larry Brown presented Mr. Bennett the key to the City, and proclaimed August 3, 2006 Tony Bennett Day in the City of Las Vegas.

“What made this night special was that the kids, parents, and families that benefit from our programs were the ones that did most of the work to make it happen,” explained Ryan Wolfington, who helped organize the evening.

10-year-old Rama Trump auctioned off a signed photo of Andre Agassi for $800.00. All the children were offered the experience to go out and solicit auction items. The children also prepared the clay courts for the pro/am earlier in the day, and helped with the fashion show luncheon, which began with a comedic opening from Rita Rudner.

The Children stapled packets, decorated, and checked in guests. Rama was also in charge of meeting Mr. Bennett at the airport as his official greeter. McKay Novak, also 10, was in charge of meeting Mr. Leno and bringing him from his limousine to the ballroom. It was the Foundation families that worked the silent and live auction, and at the end of the night, they cleaned up and put everything away.

“This is what we are about,” explained Wolfington, who stresses the importance of earning their way verse being handed something for nothing. “Even if we have to make up a job, each week the children work volunteer hours to earn the scholarships and support they get. This builds character and a knowing they earned it.”

The Crowd responded bidding way above many live auction retail prices, just to support VegasTennis.com’s Marty Hennessy Jr. Tennis Foundation. The excitement reached a peak when Scott Frazer and William Anton bid Mr. Bennett’s litho painting up to $21,000.00. It was a salute to the entertainment legends efforts.

Then event Chair Jeff Taylor stayed true to form and bid just about everything else up, winning the Harry Winston $15,200.00 watch and a reception at Harry Winston for 25 for $14,000. Bob and Winnie Schulman donated a week in the EXCLUSIVE REORTS Castle in England, which Helen & Chip Johnson won for $11,000.00. Another interesting item donated by Johnny Brennen and Diva Clark was a private screening for 400 at Brenen’sltra luxury movie theatre at the Palms which went for $8,000.00.

President of the Venetian, Robert Goldstein, donated an elaborate weekend package at the Venetian, that went for $9,000.00 to Stirling Club member Andy Ferguson. The “TENNIS CHANNEL OPEN BROADCASTER FOR A DAY” package was very well received with Scott Fraser winning for $6,000.00. The Hilton Grand Vacations and Tao Party Package went to Diana “Diva” Clark for $1,250, Dr. and Mrs Mulkey won the Mike Agassi NO QUIT Tennis Weekend and dinner at Hannah’s for $2,500.00.
Michael Crook won the Family Day with Kevin Janison at his TV station for $1,250.00. The Ultimate Las Vegas Weekend“ Golf Package went for $3,250.00 to TRI-STAR management’s Scott Karosa. Las Vegas, entertainment Weekend with Danny Gans and Lance Burton went to Ravi Tumber for $1,400.00. Mr Tumber also won the Picasso’s and Manilow Vegas Night Out for $1,400 and The Montage Resort 3-day, 2-night Stay for $4,500 and an 8-week Internship with RBC managing Director Jason Spacek in New York City for his nephew paying $6,500.00.

The Las Vegas Hilton and Tennis Resort, who is a sponsor of the event, also put in a entertainment and tennis package that went for $1,800.00 to Wireless Venture Partners Michelle and Kurt Swauger.

“Rudy” Ruettiger was a special guest. All the kids had been inspired by the movie, which they would watch on the way to out of town competitions. So when the real Rudy showed up the kids and guests really enjoyed that.

“I make my kids watch your movie,” said Frankie Avalon’s son to the Notre Dame and film legend.

Mr. Ruettiger made a special trip to hand out the “RUDY” Award to Frideric Prandecki who,”Just 4 years ago was partying all the time”, yet through this program started playing tennis 6 days a week, 5 hours a day, got a job cleaning courts and as a result beat the #20 player in the nation a few weeks ago, was chosen twice to be on Junior Davis Cup Team, and is being offered numerous college scholarships. Prandecki is the foundations first graduate and tonight’s event was something of a graduation for the kid.

“If it was not for the foundation I would not being going to college. Last year this time I had no ranking because I could not travel. Because of the foundation I am getting scholarship offers and I thank you guys,” said Prandecki, who for the last 3 years has been the poster boy for their success.

“Dealing with these kids, they become your own,” Wolfington said when presenting the award. “There is no better joy then seeing a persons full potential come to the surface.”

Distinguished guests included Las Vegas CEO Rudy Prieto, The McClure family from San Diego, Turnberry Residents Mr. and Mrs. McDonald, Jerry Wendel, Phyllis Schwartz, Diane Mason, Peggy Donohue, Janet Ford, Sandy White, Fellini’s Bob Harry, Iva Paulsen from Wild Truffles, Ed Gonzales, Mr. and Mrs. Greathouse, Exclusive Resorts Todd Harris, Luxury homes Mr. and Mrs. Lowman, Tawni & Troy Werline and ultra volunteers Minette Curnutt, Ryan Gormley, Trenton Alenik and Anne Payne.

“Marty Hennessy, Mike Agassi and Tony Bennett all have a certain standard of excellence they live by and that is why people came out to support them,” said Wolfington.

Tim Blenkiron who is the Director of Andre Agassi’s foundation’s tennis program, received the Tony Bennett Heart Award, This is the highest honor of the night and was given to Tim for, “His unbridled love of excellence.” The award itself was created by award winning artist Annie Alenik.
Kevin Stott of the View newspaper was presented with VegasTennis.com’s Writer of the year Award, for his “Passionate writing and dedication to his work.”

Dana Goyak was given the “Pressure is a privilege” Billy Jean King signed Racket award, for her efforts to decorate and help organize the event with “such grace.”

Wireless Venture Partners Kurt Swauger and Laurie Steed of Granello Bakery received Sponsor of the year Award for “Always being there to help make children’s events special.”

Thriving new movie star and Producer Monte Lapica and Tommy Bell received the “Inspiration Award” for creating “A masterpiece that inspires children to understand life and the power of choice.” (SELF-MEDICATED, 21 Film Festival awards this year, over 9 best film)

Iva Paulsen of Wild Truffles, Bob Harry of Felinni’s, and Evan Glusman of Piero’s were guests of Honor. Glusman was unable to attend but Iva Paulsen and Bob Harry were seated at Mr. Bennett’s table in appreciation for their magnificent catering last year, which was a significant donation to the foundation.

RBC Capital Markets Corp’s Director Jason Spacek was the main sponsor and chair along side Jeff Taylor of the Taylor Family Foundation. Additional event sponsors include The Charlie Palmer Group, The Stirling Club, The Las Vegas Hilton Tennis Resort, Northwestern Mutual’s Steve Braun, Deutsche Bank, The Tennis Channel, Inside Tennis Magazine, Granello Bakery and The Marriott.

“The night was a complete success,” explained Marty Hennessy, who is the Director of Tennis at The Stirling Club, a Director of this foundation and a legend in tennis. “It was tremendous , I don’t even have enough time to take off for a weekend. For Tony Bennett to come out here for this is just amazing, thank you Tony.”
The weekend of festivities was capped off with “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” with Celebrity Chef Michael Mina. Taylor and Spacek had paid $80,000.00 for this item at Andre Agassi Foundations Grand Slam for children, and parlayed it back into this other fundraiser for VegasTennis.com’s Marty Hennessy jr. Tennis Foundation.

Tiffany’s handed out silver tennis ball key chains, beautiful music was played, flowers were displayed and offered to the mothers for Mother’s Day.

“It could not have gone better,” said Wolfington. It goes to show, when you do what you know, everything works out perfectly.

FOR PHOTOS CALL 822-1081, or email VegasTennis.com@aol.com
FOUNDATION IS ALWAYS LOOKING FOR SUPPORT, VOLUNTEERS AND DONATIONS.
Please call 822-1081 if you are interested.

ABOUT THE FOUNDATION

VegasTennis.com’s Marty Hennessy jr. Tennis Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that gives mentoring, tutoring and tennis to kids with talent but not the resources to make their dreams a reality. The mission of the organization is to “Change kids lives through tennis and education,” giving kids the opportunity to get scholarships to college while discovering the lessons of life on the court. We have taken kids from partying and bad lifestyles to training 5 hours a day and getting a full scholarship to college. We have helped families that work hard, but at the end of the day do not have enough left to send their kid to the national tournament they qualified for, or to get tennis shoes.

Last year’s fundraiser provided the following for area youth:
Provided help to Frideric Prandecki, who made the Jr. Davis Cup team, beat the #20 player in the nation and won numerous tournaments. Because of his success, he will go to college on a scholarship.

Frideric, Julia Baltas, Kaja Banas, Farwa Husain, Maja Banas, and Patrick Kawka qualified for Supernationals.

15 kids went to the Bollettieri camp

40 kids went to summer camp with 5 days of free training

The traveling junior team went to 14+ tournaments/events

50 kids went to pro tournaments and met their heroes.

Over 60 kids got entry fee scholarships

Orphaned kids at Girls and Boys Town received free tennis lessons monthly

Hundreds of kids participated in “Treat the Kids like Pros” tournaments and “How to get a college scholarship” seminars

We had free match play for all kids once a week

Kids discovered the value of a work ethic through our work program

Kids learned by helping put together this event

Got kids names and pictures in the paper for their accomplishments

Council ed kids to better appreciate their parents and not be frustrated

Tutored and mentored kids in our foundation to have an average 3.8 GPA

Mentoring helped kids see a bigger dream, a bigger vision

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Please make a donation of an item or service, large or small, to be auctioned off this year or next.
or-
You can write a check to VTMARTY HENNESSY Jr Tennis Foundation.
or-
Donate an item on our Wish List

WISH LIST

* Laptops for kids to do homework when at tournaments.
* Van to take kids to tournaments
* PA system
* Stereo system and speakers
* Airline miles and tickets for kids to travel
* Items for live and silent auction 2007
* Mentor the kids by taking them to lunch

PAYMENT
Checks should be made out to:

VegasTennis.com’s Marty Hennessy Junior Tennis Foundation

4316 Fortune Ave
Las Vegas, Nevada 89107

VegasTennis.com’s Marty Hennessy Junior Tennis Foundation is a 501-3c non-profit organization (ein# 20-1638145)

Ryan Wolfington
Executive Director
702-822-1081
4316 Fortune Ave
Las Vegas, Nevada 89107

VegasTennis.com’s
Marty Hennessy Jr. Tennis Foundation

“Changing kids lives through tennis”

A non-profit 501(c)(3) Charitable organization

EIN # 20-1638145

Kobe Bryant meets Rudy Ruettiger

By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Updated: April 14, 2011, 3:34 PM ET

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Two hours before the Los Angeles Lakers played the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night, a man and his 13-year-old daughter walked up to Kobe Bryant.

Courtesy of Ruettiger family Kobe Bryant met Rudy Ruettiger in Sacramento on Wednesday.

Courtesy of Ruettiger family
Kobe Bryant met Rudy Ruettiger in Sacramento on Wednesday.

Bryant had already been on the court for two hours and normally doesn’t take a break from his pregame shooting routine for pictures and autographs, but he had just heard the girl finish a stirring practice rendition of the national anthem and happily obliged as the man thanked him and introduced himself and his daughter.

“I’m Rudy Ruettiger and this is my daughter Jessica Ruettiger,” he said. “She’s singing the national anthem before the game.”

“Rudy?” Bryant said as a smile came over his face. “The movie?”

“Yeah,” Ruettiger said.

“That movie changed my life,” Bryant said.

Suddenly the roles were reversed and Bryant was the star-struck fan who wanted a picture.

Bryant was a sophomore at Lower Merion High School when he first saw the movie “Rudy” in 1993. He would see it at least a handful of times in theaters and by his estimation, “a hundred” times on tape. Bryant said the film motivated him to work harder than he ever had before and continues to inspire him to be the first one at the practice facility and the last to leave.

“When I saw it I told myself if I can play as hard as Rudy with the talent I have, anything’s possible,” Bryant said. “I’ve met a lot of people in my life but that one there, man, that one [messed] me up.”

Bryant was already having flashbacks of his days at Lower Merion High School as he sat courtside at Power Balance Pavilion four hours before tipoff. He had just apologized for uttering a gay slur at a referee the night before and was thinking back to old classmates who had been called the same derogatory term at school.

“It’s been a tough day,” Bryant said. “For me it’s about the bigger message. I made a mistake in terms of what I said but it’s also the responsibility it carries with it. I don’t want kids to think that’s it OK or cool to call kids that or tease them because of that. I don’t stand for that. I never have. I’ve been in so many altercations in middle school and in high school protecting kids from that. I certainly won’t be a part of enhancing that and the feeling that it’s OK. I just won’t.”

Ruettiger and Bryant spoke about adversity and the importance of giving back and inspiring those who might look up to them as role models.

“We talked about struggles and I said it’s not how hard you take a hit, it’s how hard you get back up,” Ruettiger said. “When you hit a certain status in life you want to help people. It meant so much to hear him say that the movie changed his life. It blew my mind. I couldn’t believe it. What do you say to a guy like Kobe who is so excited to meet you?”

As Ruettiger walked away with Jessica and his son Danny, Bryant turned to a Lakers staffer who had just walked onto the court and pointed to Ruettiger.

“You want to meet the person who’s had the biggest influence on my life?” Bryant said. “That’s Rudy. The real Rudy Ruettiger.”

Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Daniel (Rudy) Ruettiger, former Notre Dame football player, visits Yankee Stadium, meets students

http://assets.nydailynews.com/nydn/img/static/hdr_logo.png

BY MARK LELINWALLA
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Friday, November 19, 2010

Daniel (Rudy) Ruettiger spoke to students at Cardinal Hayes HS yesterday and also visited Yankee Stadium, where Notre Dame, his former team, will face Army on Saturday. > (Chu for News)

Daniel (Rudy) Ruettiger spoke to students at Cardinal Hayes HS yesterday and also visited Yankee Stadium, where Notre Dame, his former team, will face Army on Saturday.

He was told that he was 5-foot nothin’, with nary a speck of athletic ability. And yet he hung in for two years with the best college football team in the land.

Becoming Notre Dame’s most famous undersized walk-on and having his life depicted in the unforgettable 1993 movie “Rudy” were dreams that came true for Daniel (Rudy) Ruettiger.

But Friday, the day before Army and Notre Dame take the field to renew their rivalry at Yankee Stadium, Ruettiger scratched another dream off his bucket list.

“I have never been to Yankee Stadium,” a gushing Ruettiger told an auditorium of students at Cardinal Hayes HS, just minutes from the House That George Built. “Guess where I’m going at 1:30 p.m. today? Yankee Stadium.

“How awesome is that?” he said, as the students showered him with cheers of “Rudy, Rudy!”

Despite growing up in Joliet, Ill., the South Side of Chicago, Ruettiger was a Yankees fan. Yesterday, he fulfilled a lifelong dream.

“It’s a dream come true,” Ruettiger said. “On the field with the big guys before the big game.”

Unfortunately, Ruettiger won’t be able to attend the historic 50th meeting between Notre Dame and Army live from on Saturday night.

“I can’t go to the game,” said Ruettiger, 62. “I’ve got to be in Las Vegas Saturday morning for my boy’s soccer game. I can’t miss my (8-year-old) boy’s game. Can you imagine him on the sideline like, ‘Dad, you didn’t go to my game, you went to the Notre Dame game!’ My boy’s more important than Notre Dame right now.”

Noble decision from a noble man.

Ruettiger, who currently resides with his wife and two children in Henderson, Nev., spends his time today giving motivational speeches across the country.

Marcus Hilton, a former Cardinal Hayes standout and an Army senior defensive end who will see action against Notre Dame, drew instant parallels to Ruettiger’s life.

“It’s very similar,” said Hilton, who also made his first ever trip to Yankee Stadium on Friday. “Coming up in the Bronx, they either expect you to drop out of school or do drugs and not be as productive as other people and that’s just not the case. We’re as talented as other people, but the light just doesn’t shine on us as bright, so we have to work that much more harder. That’s something I always believed in.”

Students at Cardinal Hayes, which counts talk show host Regis Philbin, movie director Martin Scorsese and former NBA star Jamal Mashburn as famous alum, watched “Rudy” prior to Ruettiger’s visit.

Ruettiger says he isn’t surprised that the movie still resonates with younger crowds, more than 17 years after its initial release.

“I represent what they’re going through and they’re looking for hope, like, ‘If that guy can make it, I can make it,’” Ruettiger said. “It’s a simple connection. The movie was put together to have that effect. We wanted to make it a message and very powerful.”

UVU: Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger speaks to Utah Valley University Students

Rudy is a profound example of the human ability to surmount obstacles and achieve success, said UVUSA Student Senator Billy Swadley. His presence at UVU will set the tone for how students tackle their own personal barriers this school year.

Ruettiger, the son of an oil refinery worker and third of 14 children, has become one of the most popular motivational speakers in the United States. His story of overcoming the doubt and numerous obstacles preventing him from going to college and achieving his ultimate dream of playing for the Fighting Irish has become a classic through the namesake movie he inspired.

Swadley said UVUSA hopes Ruettigers message will set the tone for an achievement-filled school year.