Daniel Eugene "Rudy" Ruettiger
Rudy played football for Notre Dame. While this would already make him noteworthy, it was his process in how he got on the team that is most significant. He didn’t have a football scholarship. He wasn’t scouted and asked to join. He just really loved Notre Dame and he dreamed of playing for them. His high school grades were not strong, due in part to his dyslexia which was not yet diagnosed. He applied to Notre Dame and was rejected three times. After these rejections he poured himself into his studies at Holy Cross College.
Rudy was Tenacious. On his fourth attempt, he was accepted as a student.
Notre Dame allowed any student to come to football try outs as a walk-on. Despite being 5’6 and 165 pounds, his hard work and willingness to get back up again led to him being selected for the scout team. The scout team was there to practice against the real team – to give them people to knock down and run plays against. Rudy notoriously put the same level of energy and intensity to these practices as if he were on the Varsity team and it was game day.
Rudy played for two years at Notre Dame. He continued to give it everything that he had, despite it looking more and more like he was never going to get to dress or play in a real game. Rudy didn’t stop trying just because things didn’t go his way, and he didn’t get bitter or feel entitled to game time.
In 1975, during the last game of Rudy’s senior year he was allowed to dress for the game and play. Rudy did not score any points that game. He only had one sack that was recorded into his statistics. Despite this, when time ran out and Notre Dame was victorious, it was Rudy who was hoisted above the players shoulders and carried out of the stadium. He was the first to be honored in this way at Notre Dame, and in the decades that have passed only one other player has ever been carried off the Fighting Irish field.
The lessons we learn from Rudy boil down to this:
Don’t stop trying just because something didn’t go your way
Get back up after getting knocked down
It’s about the team
Why do we say “be like Rudy”? Because even if everything seems stacked against you, putting in the effort will drive your success. Being like Rudy means giving it your all - every phone call, every meeting, every day!