If you have ever seen the film Rudy, then you know that it’s about a kid who wills his way onto the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team against incredible odds. Rudy is a 1993 film directed by David Anspaugh. It is an account of the life of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger who harbored dreams of playing football at the University of Notre Dame despite significant obstacles. It was the first movie the Notre Dame administration allowed to be shot on campus since Knute Rockne, All American in 1940. In 2005 Rudy was named one of the best 25 sports movies of the previous 25 years in two polls by ESPN (#24 by a panel of sports experts, and #4 by espn.com users).
In the movie, the main character Rudy Ruettiger defies all odds to make the team. He doesn’t have the grades, so he goes to another college to get them, and he doesn’t have the money, but he works his tail off to get to the necessary funds. Rudy wasn’t a very good football player—he was slow and undersized—but he wouldn’t take no for an answer and eventually made the team at Notre Dame. He gets in for one play late in a meaningless game and his teammates pull for him, because the one thing he has cannot be denied—and it’s called “desire.”
This movie is significant to me because I happen to know my very-own real-life Rudy. His name is Christopher Gurries, and he is the son of my best friend from high school. Chris walked-on at Notre Dame and miraculously made the team. A star at Bishop Manogue High School in Reno, he was a very good football player. Since no major Division I colleges recruited him, he decided to not play football and attend Notre Dame.
During his freshman year, Gurries walked on and although he didn’t make the team that time, he didn’t give up, either. This off-season, he worked hard and trained like crazy. Well, it all paid off; because Gurries made the team as one of the few walk-ons to successfully make the varsity.
Whether he gets significant playing time is another question entirely. But, it doesn’t matter—because he made the team and will be able to tell his kids and grandchildren that along with Knute Rockne, Joe Montana and the Gipper, he played for the Fighting Irish and made the squad.
Congratulations to Christopher Gurries. You’re our Rudy and we admire your passion. Look for him this year if you ever get the chance to watch a Notre Dame game. He’s number 38, a 5’10” 180 lb. long snapper and wide receiver with a heart bigger than all of South Bend.