Well, let it never be said that you can be too old to play sports.
At one junior college in North Dakota, the North Dakota State College of Science, 49-year old Ray Ruschel is actively playing in college football games each week.
That’s correct, a 49-year old is actually getting snaps at defensive line in the year of our lord, 2022.
According to the Associated Press, Ruschel was in the Army and National Guard for nearly 20 years, before deciding to enroll at the College to improve on his career as a night-shift mechanic at a sugar beet factory.
After enrolling, Ruschel decided to try out for the team, and got approval from the school’s head coach, who is, unsurprisingly, a year younger than him.
The report says that the coach was rightfully worried about a 49-year old man getting hurt, but he apparently was impressive enough to earn a spot on the roster.
It’s All About His Attitude
The coach explained that his attitude plays a significant role in his ability to compete despite being far, FAR past his athletic peak:
“Guys that he’s playing against are bigger, faster, stronger than him,” Issendorf said. “But he’s been able to manage it. His personality …. he’s just a really likable guy with an ambition not to leave any stone unturned. As long as he’s here on this earth.”
There are numerous cultural differences between Ruschel and his teammates, one example of which is that he still uses Facebook, while the college-aged players have migrated to TikTok and Instagram. Not to mention his preference for country music.
He claims to somehow be able to keep up with the physical rigors of the season, saying “All in all I’m no more sore than the rest of these kids. I’ve just got to keep stretching.”
Once you hit your mid-30’s, soreness becomes a part of life just from walking around, let alone competing in a contact sport against adults less than half your age.
But Ruschel provides a valuable lesson for those still wanting to compete in athletics past their primes; even if you’re almost 50-years old, you too can play college football. As long as it’s at a small school in North Dakota.