Skip to main content

Football underdog 'Rudy' speaks to northern Ont. students


The North Bay Police Service hosted nearly 900 Grade 9 students at the Capitol Centre on Wednesday for a motivational talk from Daniel ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger.

Rudy dreamt of playing football at the University of Notre Dame, despite facing significant obstacles. Students watched the 1993 movie ‘Rudy,’ which tells Ruettiger’s life story, before hearing him speak.

The North Bay Police Service hosted nearly 900 Grade 9 students at the Capitol Centre on Wednesday for a motivational talk from Daniel ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger. (Eric Taschner/CTV News)

Described as the ultimate underdog, and against all odds, he carved his name into football history books.

“It’s all because of that one moment I decided to step out of that restaurant and not give up,” he recalled Wednesday.

The film immortalizes Ruettiger’s never-give-up attitude and his dream to play football for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, despite being undersized, not having the grades or the money to attend the school.

Despite the numerous setbacks and rejections, Rudy persisted through sheer determination and hard work.

“You don’t have to be the most talented kid to be somebody,” he said.

“As long as you keep moving forward, you never know how you’re going to end up.”

In his only game for Notre Dame, Rudy subbed into a match against Georgia Tech on Nov. 8, 1975. With 27 seconds left on the score clock, he sacked the opposing quarterback.

His teammates then hoisted him up on their shoulders, carrying him off the field -- the first Notre Dame player to receive that kind of treatment.

Ruettiger remembers the moment clearly.

“You remember the smell of the grass,” he said.

“You remember the crowd and what it was like -- the feeling, the adrenaline. But you (don’t) have that feeling unless you prepare yourself for that.”

Today, Rudy is a motivational speaker who inspires others to follow their dreams and believe in themselves.

Don't give up on your dreams

“It shows us to not give up on your dreams no matter what. Even if you’re too small or something,” said Logan Lauzon, a Grade 9 student at Chippewa Secondary School

“If you keep trying, you can make it.”

Rylie Brown, who’s in Grade 9 at West Ferris Secondary School, is a volleyball player with the Junior Lakers. The movie and speech stuck with her.

“It’s a good experience for me. We play teams that are tough and even if the score isn’t good for us, we have to try our best,” Brown said.

When the North Bay police had the chance to bring Rudy to speak to the students through proceeds of crime provincial grant, they couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

“You can overcome those obstacles and we’ve got to really put our minds to it and never give up,” said Deputy Police Chief Michael Dazé.

“We should set our dreams big and go after and pursue those.”

Rudy, the embodiment of resiliency, says he will continue spreading his message for the next generation of self-believers.

“Fighters and warriors about their lives, that’s what we want those kids to be,” he said. Top Stories

Stay Connected