Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger with the help of Mark Dagostino tells us for the first time a story many of us thought we know in Rudy: My Story. Rudy: My Story retells the familiar story of Rudy Ruettiger’s efforts to play for his beloved Notre Dame football team. Ruettiger tells the story of his large and loving family in Joliet, Illinois, and their growing love of Notre Dame. Ruettiger loved sports, but hated school which meant his chances to go to college were non-existent. In the era of the escalating Vietnam War Ruettiger joined the Navy and received an unintended benefit, access to the G.I. Bill. Ruettiger used access to education through his military benefits and a community college to build the grades needed for him to be admitted to Notre Dame. Once admitted he worked to become a walk-on to the football team and served for two years on the scout team. The highlight of his football career was his one opportunity to suit up and play in one collegiate game. Ruettiger and Dagostino then detail Ruettiger’s post college career and how he worked to get the blockbuster movie about his life, Rudy, made.
This is a familiar and yet different story than many of us know for Rudy. Ruettiger explains how some incidents in his life were changed or ignored to make a story suitable for the theater. For example his service in the Navy is ignored in the movie, along with his on-campus boxing success. The book makes it clear that Ruettiger and his desire to suit up for a game were known by many throughout campus. Additionally, his father was more supportive than depicted in the film. In many ways the real life story is simply not as exciting as the movie, as we should expect. Additionally, the information after Notre Dame is very unclear, such as leaving information about his wife almost completely out. If anything the story of Ruettiger’s missteps in getting the movie made is one that adds to the story of Rudy the movie.
Ruettiger makes it clear that he wishes to further the message of Rudy. Everyone has Rudy in this in his opinion and his combination of dreaming and doing has inspired many. Ruettiger succeeds in sharing his life and message. But in many ways this combination sports biography and self-help books falls a little flat for me, mostly because I constantly compared it to the movie!Review Copy Provided by Thomas Nelson