Rudy’s inspiring story rocks the Capitol Centre

“Remember, everybody has a chance to be somebody.”

The words resonated throughout the Capitol Centre, and hundreds of local Grade 9 students who filled the seats Wednesday heeded the call. Rudy Ruettiger was on stage, and the children were ready to listen.

Ruettiger came to great renown when Hollywood depicted his triumphant journey to play for his beloved Notre Dame. He was determined to join the Fighting Irish, and despite his smaller size, and the disbelief from those around him, Ruettiger donned number 45, hit the gridiron, and helped to bring the team to victory.

That was in 1975, and the movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 1993. Sean Astin played Rudy, the underdog who never gave up on his football dream. The film Rudy, like Rocky before it, is one of the greatest inspirational sports films.

“Someone has to encourage people with their dreams,” Ruettiger told the crowd, “never put them down because you don’t know what they’re going to become.”

Indeed, and the students, who most likely had not heard of Rudy before preparing for today’s event, hung on each word.

See: Police ask Rudy to help connect and inspire local teens

The North Bay Police Service, in partnership with the NoahStrong Organization, put together the event as a way to inspire young teens. Mike Daze, the Deputy Chief, noted there are a lot of “challenges our youth face today,” and listening to someone like Rudy, reminds all about resiliency “and how to push forward with their dreams.”

The day began with a screening of Rudy, which by all accounts the kids loved, (see clip below story) a lunch under a tent in the Capitol Centre’s parking lot, and then back to the cool of the theatre to hear a keynote speech from Rudy.

One of those students, Rylie Brown from West Ferris high, is also an athlete, playing volleyball for the Junior Lakers. The film hit home with her. “People didn’t believe in him,” she recounted, “so he had to keep pushing himself, and that’s good motivation to keep going.”

As a Junior Laker she too knows the challenges of playing against tough teams, “but you have to push through it, even if you know you’re not going to do well, you have to try your best.”

Inspiration was on tap today, and the words of wisdom continued to flow during Ruettiger’s speech. He’s been touring as a motivational speaker since the film of his story became an international sensation. He’s the ‘real Rudy,’ and he will inspire you to take on the world.

The kids loved it. After the film and some hot dogs, Ruettiger took to the stage for his talk and the kids started chanting “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy,” just like in the movie.

“Great things happen when you get out of your comfort zone,” Ruettiger emphasized. “Get comfortable being uncomfortable, because that’s when you make it.”

“Dreams are made from hard work, and they are made from good friends.” After all, “nobody can do it alone,” he concluded, and the crowd could not agree more.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,