Against All Odds

  • Category: Music & Movies
  • Words: 2422
  • Grade: 80
Against All Odds
Since being a little kid in Joliet, Illinois, Rudy Reuttiger has only dreamed of doing one thing, playing in at least one Notre Dame football game. Rudy recalls that when he was a kid on Sunday mornings at church the priest "started every Mass with the Fighting Irish scores. I didn't even know Notre Dame was a school. I thought it was a place God sent football players to beat the Protestants" (Schneider 53). Rudy is first introduced to the “Fighting Irish” by his dad, who loved Notre Dame football and watched every game. Rudy comes from very humble circumstances; he was one of fourteen children, and his dad worked at a mill. Throughout his whole life, people told him that he couldn't accomplish his dream, because he was too small, standing at 5'6," and he was not smart enough, having a 1.77 grade point average. The Christian Spotlight movie review says of Rudy, "He decides to ignore the limits others have placed on him and to put everything he has into chasing his dream" (Phillips). He will stop at nothing to reach his goal, and with the help of several people, he turns his dreams into reality. In the movie Rudy, Rudy goes through life at home, Holy Cross, and Notre Dame with great determination to fulfill his dream of playing football at Notre Dame he has some help, but mainly great discouragement from the people around him.
        While at home, although Rudy's brother, high school teacher, and father tell him that he will never be able to go to Notre Dame, he stays determined to go. Brothers will always be brothers, and, in Rudy's case, this is no different. His brother Frank consistently makes fun of Rudy's dream, telling him that he should just give it up, that he is too small, and that he could never make the team. Rudy's high school teacher tells the class that Rudy is a dreamer, not a doer. A week later, when Rudy wants to take a tour of the Notre Dame campus, his teacher will not let him go, saying, "You don't have the grades for Joliet Community, much less Notre Dame" (Rudy). He goes on to say, "The secret to happiness in life is to be grateful for the gifts the good Lord has bestowed upon us. Not everyone is meant to go to college" (Rudy). Rudy doesn't go to college right away. Instead, he gets a job at a steel mill and starts saving up for school. His best friend Pete is about the only one who takes his dream seriously. When Rudy turns twenty-three, Pete tragically dies in an explosion at the steel mill. At this point, Rudy says, "I realized that life is too short not to pursue your dreams" (Schneider 54). He decides to go to Notre Dame and accomplish his dream. He leaves everything behind, only looking toward the future by saying goodbye to his long time girlfriend and quitting his job. When Rudy goes to the train station to catch a bus to Notre Dame, his dad comes to give him some fatherly advice. He tells Rudy, " Dreams cause nothing but you and the people around you heartache. Notre Dame is for rich kids, smart kids, great athletes; it's not for people like us" (Rudy). Despite his father's words to try to convince him to stay, Rudy gets on the bus and heads to South Bend. While most people would only be discouraged by all of the negative things said, it just makes Rudy want his dream even more.
        When Rudy is at Holy Cross, he finds people willing to help him out, strengthening his determination. Although his family still doesn't support him, he finds help from other people. When he first arrives at Notre Dame, he talks to a priest named Father Cavanaugh. Father Cavanaugh tells Rudy that he can get him one semester at Holy Cross, a nearby junior college. With good enough grades, he can get another semester, and with a high enough grade point average he might have a chance at getting into Notre Dame. During Rudy's first day at Holy Cross, he meets a guy named Debob who says that he is a tutor for hire and would like to help Rudy. Rudy tells him that he cannot even afford a room to rent. Debob says that he will help tutor Rudy if Rudy will help him meet girls. Since Rudy has always struggled with his grades, he agrees to the deal; he and Debob become good friends. Next, he talks to Fortune, head of the grounds crew for the football stadium, about getting a job. He begs Fortune for a job, even offering to work for free. Rudy tells him, "I just want to be a part of this University" (Rudy). So, Fortune hires him, and pays him minimum wage. Rudy, without a place to live, sneaks into a window of the football stadium to sleep in the janitorial office. Fortune finds out about this, and he leaves Rudy a blanket and key one night, so Rudy will not have to sneak in anymore. Rudy ends up sleeping in this office for two years. Notre Dame doesn't accept senior transfers, so Rudy has four semesters to try to get in. He is unsuccessful his first three tries, despite making decent grades. After his fourth and final try, he is filled with joyful tears to find that he is accepted into Notre Dame. When Rudy goes home to tell his dad, it is the first time his dad is happy for him. Though Rudy has many obstacles to conquer, he finds people willing to help him out in order to accomplish part of his dream.
        While at Notre Dame, Rudy determinedly accomplishes his goals in spite of heavy resistance from some and in response to the helpful hearts of others. The first thing he does at Notre Dame is try out for the football team. He gives the best effort he has, laying his body on the line for a chance at being on the team. At the end of tryouts, Rudy's blue and white practice jersey is soiled in deep red bloodstains. The coaches discuss if Rudy should make the team, and Coach Yonto says, "If it were up to me, I'd get rid of all of them. Reuttiger has no athletic ability what so ever" (Rudy). Coach Gellepsie counters by saying, "Reuttiger has put in more effort then any two other guys put together" (Rudy). Coach Gellepsie talks to Rudy after practice, telling him that he can be on the team as long as he gives the same kind of effort day in and day out for the next five months. Rudy is overcome with joy to find out that he made the team; he hugs the coach and starts jumping up and down like a little kid. When practice starts, Rudy does give the same effort day in and day out. Some of his teammates do not like his all out effort, though; one of his teammates named Jim talks with Rudy saying:
Why don't you dial it down a notch? What do you get out of getting your head banged in everyday? Everyone is getting sick of hearing, why don't you put out more like Reuttiger. You know you have to be in at least one play in the regular season to be listed as being part of this team. And you can count on it, the only thing that you'll be wearing is that grungy thing you've been wearing everyday (Rudy).
Rudy may have made the team, but that does not mean that he gets to dress for the games. He only made the practice squad. When Rudy goes home to visit his family, none of them believe that he is on the team, because they never see him at the games. Rudy is not happy about this, so at the end of his junior year, he talks to Head Coach Ara Parsegian, asking if he could dress for one game his senior year. Coach Parsegian asks Rudy why he wants this so badly. Rudy responds, "It's for everyone that told me being a Notre Dame football player would be impossible. It's for my brothers, the kids in my high school, the guys I work with at the mill. They can't come to practice and see that I am part of the team" (Rudy). Coach Parsegian thinks Rudy deserves to dress, so he agrees to let Rudy dress one game his senior year. When Rudy's senior year comes, Coach Parsegian retires, and Notre Dame hires Dan Devine from the Green Bay Packers as the team's new head coach. Rudy does not give up, though; he works even harder to make the dress list. Every week, he runs his index finger down the alphabetical list searching for his name, and every week he does not find it. Finally, it comes down to the last game of the year -- Rudy's last chance to dress. He scrolls down the list to the R's, only to find that his name has been left off once again. He storms out of the locker room with disappointment and anger, thinking that all he has done is for nothing. He decides to skip his final practice, and goes to the football stadium to reflect on all that has just happened. While there Rudy sees Fortune, and Rudy tells him that he wanted to run onto the field for his dad to prove that he was somebody. Fortune responds to Rudy by saying:
You are so full of crap. You're five feet nothin, one hundred and nothin, and you got hardly a speck of athletic ability, and you hung in with the best college football team in the land for two years. And you're also gonna walk out of here with a degree from the University of Notre Dame, in this lifetime you don't have to prove nothing to nobody except yourself. And after what you've gone through, if you haven't done that by now it ain't gonna never happen. (Rudy).
After this talk, Rudy decides to go back to practice. Then the night before the last game, all the players get together and decide to pay Head Coach Dan Devine a visit. They walk in his office one by one, laying their jerseys down on his desk, saying, "I want Rudy to dress in my spot, he deserves it" (Rudy). This leaves the coach no other choice but to let Rudy dress for the game. Upon hearing the good news, his family is actually excited for him, and all his family members come to the game. The game goes as usual for the Irish; there are a couple of minutes left in the game and Notre Dame is up 24-3. Coach Devine puts in all the seniors except Rudy. One of Notre Dame's players starts chanting "Rudy, Rudy, Rudy" (Rudy). Then the team joins in, followed by the crowed, until nothing can be heard but the echoing of "Rudy, Rudy" (Rudy). By now, there are twenty-seven seconds left in the game, and to please everyone, Coach Devine decides to put Rudy in on a kickoff. Rudy runs out on the field looking like a boy amongst men. After the kickoff, there are seven seconds left, which leaves time for one more play. This is what Rudy has been dreaming of his whole life; he is getting to line up and play some defense for the Fighting Irish. As soon as the ball is snapped, Rudy shoots through the offensive line like there is no tomorrow. He runs directly to the quarterback and lays a lick on him. Rudy has done it! He gets a sack in his one play at Notre Dame. Everyone is going crazy, acting as if they have just won the national championship. Rudy's teammates lift him up on their shoulders and carry him off the field; this has never again happened to any other Notre Dame player. All of Rudy's hard work, dedication, and persistence pay off for him.
        Rudy never listens when people tell him that being a Notre Dame football player is impossible; he keeps his hope and has a great will of determination to make things happen for himself. Rudy's conquering spirit, “which triumphs over all and comes thorough resplendent,” is much stronger then the obstacles and negative criticism that surround him (Burnett). That is exactly what Rudy does; he overcomes all obstacles in which he is confronted. Rudy wouldn't take no for an answer. He beat all odds to fulfill his life long dream. Roger Ebert says, "[B]y the end of the film we accept Rudy's dream as more than simply sports sentiment. It's a small but powerful illustration of the human spirit." Rudy shows us that dreams do come true; one just has to work hard to accomplish them.        

Works Cited
Burnett, Whit, ed. Foreword. The Spirit Of Man. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1958.
Ebert, Roger. “Rudy.” Rev. of Rudy, dir. By David Anspaugh. Chicago Sun Times 13 Oct. 1993.
Phillips, Doug. Rev. of Rudy, dir. by David Anspaugh. Christian Spotlight on the Movies 2000. 16 Feb.
2000 .
Rudy. Dir. David Anspaugh. Perf. Sean Astin and Ned Beatty. Video Cassette. Columbia Tristar Home
Video, 1993.
Schneider, Karen S. “Waking Up The Echoes.” People Weekly 1 Nov. 1993. 53-54

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