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49-year-old college football player proves with age comes wisdom and great pep talks

'Something just clicked in my head, like why not play?'

football; 49-year-old college football; pep talks

49-year-old college football player gives great pep talks.

Sometimes we talk ourselves out of our dreams and convince ourselves that we can't do that thing because of kids, age, not enough time or some other reason. But what happens when we just go for the dream we want instead of thinking of excuses to avoid the commitment? That's exactly what 49-year-old Ray Ruschel did, and his teammates are glad he didn't think he was too old to try. Ruschel, a student at North Dakota State College of Science, decided to try out for the college football team even though he hadn't played the sport since his senior year of high school.


The backup defensive lineman is old enough to be the dad of his teammates, and that additional life experience has come in handy for the team. It's easy to get discouraged or frustrated after a loss, and typically coaches are the ones giving the pep talk or calling out all the areas the team went wrong. But pep talks seem to be something Ruschel is really good at. When the team lost to a rival college, Ruschel stepped in to tell the team they weren't failing by losing one game and they still had the rest of the season to qualify to make it to the playoffs.

The middle-aged lineman wasn't always a motivational speaker to football teams. He spent nearly 20 years in the Army National Guard as well as working nights at a sugar beet factory before deciding to return to school. The school is a two-year college that offers degrees in skilled trades and healthcare, among other things. The decision to return to college would not only allow him a change to move up in his career field, but it unexpectedly gave him another chance at playing college football.

Ruschel told the AP that once he found out his college didn't have an age limit for school sports, “Something just clicked in my head, like why not play?” The coach of the football team is one year younger than Ruschel and explained to the AP that the older player is "just a really likable guy with an ambition not to leave any stone unturned. As long as he’s here on this earth.”

When you're over a certain age demographic, taking risks to chase after dreams can be terrifying but Ruschel is proving that it can be worth the risk. You're never too old to go after things you want in life and with your lived experience comes a level of wisdom that you likely wouldn't have had earlier in life.

The response to Ruschel playing football with teenagers and young adults more than half his age was one of acceptance. He told KVLY, “They’ve all been very receptive of me coming in and playing. At first, they thought I was another football coach on our first day of camp. And whenever I got in line for pads, they were like ‘wait a minute, you’re playing?’”

Ruschel explained to KVLY, “I’m having a blast playing. Out here with these young kids and actually being able to keep up! I surprise myself.” Just that sentence alone should be enough to get you to go for a dream you've been putting off. The lineman is proving not just to be an encouragement to his teammates but to people everywhere.

All images provided by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

Collins after being selected by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

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A changemaker is anyone who takes creative action to solve an ongoing problem—be it in one’s own community or throughout the world.

And when it comes to creating positive change, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective can hold just as much power as years of experience. That’s why, every year, Prudential Emerging Visionaries celebrates young people for their innovative solutions to financial and societal challenges in their communities.

This national program awards 25 young leaders (ages 14-18) up to $15,000 to devote to their passion projects. Additionally, winners receive a trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, where they receive coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities with mentors to help take their innovative solutions to the next level.

For 18-year-old Sydnie Collins, one of the 2023 winners, this meant being able to take her podcast, “Perfect Timing,” to the next level.

Since 2020, the Maryland-based teen has provided a safe platform that promotes youth positivity by giving young people the space to celebrate their achievements and combat mental health stigmas. The idea came during the height of Covid-19, when Collins recalled social media “becoming a dark space flooded with news,” which greatly affected her own anxiety and depression.

Knowing that she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, “Perfect Timing” seemed like a valuable way to give back to her community. Over the course of 109 episodes, Collins has interviewed a wide range of guests—from other young influencers to celebrities, from innovators to nonprofit leaders—all to remind Gen Z that “their dreams are tangible.”

That mission statement has since evolved beyond creating inspiring content and has expanded to hosting events and speaking publicly at summits and workshops. One of Collins’ favorite moments so far has been raising $7,000 to take 200 underserved girls to see “The Little Mermaid” on its opening weekend, to “let them know they are enough” and that there’s an “older sister” in their corner.

Of course, as with most new projects, funding for “Perfect Timing” has come entirely out of Collins’ pocket. Thankfully, the funding she earned from being selected as a Prudential Emerging Visionary is going toward upgraded recording equipment, the support of expert producers, and skill-building classes to help her become a better host and public speaker. She’ll even be able to lease an office space that allows for a live audience.

Plus, after meeting with the 24 other Prudential Emerging Visionaries and her Prudential employee coach, who is helping her develop specific action steps to connect with her target audience, Collins has more confidence in a “grander path” for her work.

“I learned that my network could extend to multiple spaces beyond my realm of podcasting and journalism when industry leaders are willing to share their expertise, time, and financial support,” she told Upworthy. “It only takes one person to change, and two people to expand that change.”

Prudential Emerging Visionaries is currently seeking applicants for 2024. Winners may receive up to $15,000 in awards and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters with a parent or guardian, as well as ongoing coaching and skills development to grow their projects.

If you or someone you know between the ages of 14 -18 not only displays a bold vision for the future but is taking action to bring that vision to life, click here to learn more. Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2023.
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This validates my burn out, right? #momtok #momsoftiktok #sahm #boymom #toddlermom #toddlersoftiktok #3under5

@jothemama

This validates my burn out, right? #momtok #momsoftiktok #sahm #boymom #toddlermom #toddlersoftiktok #3under5

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