Master Key Experience Week 14

I enjoyed watching “Rudy” again, this time with a different perspective.

Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger is a motivational speaker who played college football at the University of Notre Dame. His early life and career at Notre Dame was the inspiration for the 1993 film Rudy

Since early childhood, Rudy’s dream was to play football at Notre Dame (DMP), which was best known for legendary coach, Knute Rockne.  

Rudy knew more about Notre Dame football than any of his peers.  When mentioning his chief aim in life, he was always instantly greeted with negatives.

After playing high school football, Rudy discovered his grades were not good enough to be accepted at Notre Dame.  He started working in the steel mill alongside his father and brothers.  His best friend, Pete, gave him a Notre Dame jacket he had found at a thrift store for his birthday.  Rudy told Pete he had saved $1,000 over the last four years to pay his tuition at Notre Dame.

Unfortunately, Pete was killed in an accident at the mill.  Rudy left the funeral, told his girlfriend that if he didn’t go now, he would never get to go to Notre Dame.

Rudy’s father met him at the bus station and told Rudy that Notre Dame was for rich folks, that Rudy couldn’t qualify for admission.  Rudy said “having dreams makes life tolerable” (PMA), and left home.

Rudy talked with a priest when he arrived at Notre Dame and was told his grades weren’t good enough.  Rudy said he would do whatever it takes (POA) to go to school at Notre Dame.  The priest said he could get Rudy into Holy Cross college down the street and perhaps after a semester or two, if his grades were high enough, Rudy might be admitted.

Rudy introduced himself to Coach Ara Parseghian and said he would be back next year to play football at Notre Dame.


Rudy made friends with another student at Holy Cross who became a mentor and close friend to him (MMA), got a part time job with the Notre Dame groundskeeper, volunteered for extra-curricular activities that had anything to do with football, and sneaked into the groundskeepers office at night to sleep on the cot there since he didn’t have any place else to live.

Only after a long two years at Holy Cross was Rudy finally accepted into Notre Dame.  He tried out for football and was on the practice team.  At that time, only 60 of the 95 football scholarship players could suit up for each game.  During football season, one of the first string players asked Rudy why he didn’t quit because Rudy had been taking so many hits by the larger boys.  Rudy said “if I quit, you wouldn’t be at your best for the game on Sunday”.

At the end of his first season, Rudy asked Coach Parseghian if he could suit up for one game next season because Notre Dame football was his Dad’s favorite team and Rudy wanted to suit up so his Dad and family could see Rudy in a Notre Dame uniform since they couldn’t see him playing on the practice field.  Coach Parseghian told Rudy he wished some of his first team players had Rudy’s heart, and promised Rudy he could play in one game next year.

However, next season saw Dan Devine come in as head coach, dashing Rudy’s hopes of ever playing in a Notre Dame football game.  Near the end of the season, Rudy became so disheartened that he actually quit and did not show up for a practice.  When the head groundskeeper heard this, he told Rudy he had played on that field a number of times and that he had quit.  He told Rudy that not a day went by that he regretted his decision, and Rudy would do the same if he quit.  When Rudy showed up for the next practice, the entire team applauded his return.

Before the players were announced for the last game of the season, the team Captain laid his jersey on Coach Devine’s desk and said he wanted Rudy to suit up and take his place.  Then more players laid their jersey’s on the coaches desk.  Rudy was put on the list to suit up.  He called his Dad and friends and invited them to come to the game.  With only seconds remaining in the game, the players on the bench started chanting “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy…” and then the fans in the stands did the same.  The quarterback said Rudy played defense and as long as offense was on the field, Rudy would not be put in.  So he called a long pass play resulting in a touchdown.  Rudy was put in and participated in the kickoff return.  Rudy started to head back to the bench and the assistant coach told him to stay in.  The next and last play of the game, Rudy sacked the quarterback.

Rudy was lifted up and carried by the team (MMA). 

Since that 1975 game, no other Notre Dame player has been carried off the field.

Of course movies seldom tell it EXACTLY how it was.




3 thoughts on “Master Key Experience Week 14

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