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Irvington Bulldogs Football Team Meets Rudy

IRVINGTON, N.Y. – The Irvington High School football team gathered on the court at the Goldstein Fitness & Health Center on Wednesday night and let out the now-famous chant.

“Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!”

On cue, Rudy walked over to the team and posed for a photo with the ecstatic group of players.

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, subject of the film “Rudy,” spoke to a crowd of hundreds at Pace University on Wednesday and the Bulldogs occupied several rows of the bleachers. Second-year head coach Mike Oliva said it was an opportunity he could not forego.

“’Rudy’ is one of my favorite stories of all-time,” Oliva said, who added that when he saw Ruettiger was coming to Pace, “I just knew I had to take my team there.”

Oliva cut practice short Wednesday night but said Rudy’s speech was well worth it.

“The message we try to sell them as coaches, we tell them every day and sometimes it gets a little monotonous,” Oliva said. “But a lot of the things we say are repeated by someone like Rudy, and it means a little more. It’s nice to hear a fresh voice.”

The coach made sure his players watched the movie before Wednesday night because some of them were not even born when it was released in 1993. Oliva said the man definitely lived up to the legend and praised the humor and sincerity of Rudy’s speech.

Irvington opens its season against Edgemont on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Bulldogs brought with them Wednesday a poster with their schedule printed on it. Rudy took a marker, took the poster and wrote a large “W” next to the first game.

If Rudy expects the Bulldogs to win, they will do their best not to disappoint him.

“No pressure,” Oliva said with a laugh. “Rudy predicted that. I didn’t. But we’re going to give it our best shot.”

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