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Gerry's Corner - Against All Odds

Gerry Cameron - Oct 17, 2018
Stories of success against all odds never fail to amaze me.

At the age of 25, this woman loses her mother to multiple sclerosis, moves to a foreign land to get away, meets a guy and gets married, has a kid, divorces 4 months later, and moves back to the UK as a single mom, living in a cramped apartment with her daughter and forced to rely on state benefits. It gets worse. She falls into a deep depression and considers suicide. So, what saves her? To keep her sanity, she starts writing this book about a world of witches and wizards, and after a year of rejections, Bloomsbury, a publishing house in London, gives "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" the green light. And J.K. Rowling becomes a household name.

Stories of success against all odds never fail to amaze me. This next success story was made into a biographical sports film released in 1993 by TriStar Pictures starring Sean Astin. The name of the movie is “Rudy “and is ranked the 54th-most-inspiring film of all time in the "American Film Institute 100 Years" series.

In real life, Daniel Ruettiger never had it easy. Known as Rudy, he was the third of fourteen children, and after high school, he went straight into the United States Navy as a yeoman. Two years later, Ruettiger goes on to work in a power plant but never stops dreaming of playing football for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. So, after two years at the plant, he finally applies to Notre Dame, but because of low grades, not knowing he has dyslexia, Ruettiger starts his college career at nearby Holy Cross College. It’s at Holy Cross that Ruettiger learns about his disability.

After four rejections, Ruettiger finally gets accepted at Notre Dame in the fall of 1974.

At the time, Ara Parseghian is head coach of the Irish and encourages walk-on players, unknown students not recruited or given athletic scholarships, to try out for the team, and Ruettiger at 5'6"and 165 pounds, a perfect unknown, runs onto the field.

Showing all heart and total commitment to the Fighting Irish, Rudy earns a spot on the Notre Dame Scout team, the practice squad that helps the varsity team get ready for the games. Merv Johnson was the coach who recognized Rudy’s devotion and kept Ruettiger on as a scout-team player.

After the 1974 season, Dan Devine, former Green Bay Packers coach, replaces Parseghian as head coach. In Ruettiger's last home game in his senior season with the Fighting Irish, Devine finally puts him onto the field in the closing minutes as defensive end against Georgia Tech on November 8, 1975. With time running out, Rudy takes part in the last three plays of the game – the kickoff, the second play which was an incomplete pass, and the third and final play where Ruettiger sacks Rudy Allen, the Georgia Tech quarterback.

At the end of the game, Ruettiger, one of only two players in Notre Dame History, is carried off the field by his teammates. And the rest they say is history.