Weinman’s Irish Connection: A Brief Role in a Big Film

“Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!” 

If you’re a sports fan, you’ve likely seen the famous movie about the titular underdog who overcame all sorts of adversity to achieve his dream of playing football at the University of Notre Dame.

For those of you that don’t know, Rudy is a movie that is a story about an undersized athlete from a blue-collar family who dreamed about attending Notre Dame and playing on the football team. However, he did not have the academic background to get into the school. Rudy, portrayed by Sean Astin, did not let that stop him, going to the smaller Holy Cross College before walking on at Notre Dame and eventually suiting up for the Irish.

So now, you know the story but did you know Marist College president, Kevin Weinman, appeared in the famous sports film?

If you look very closely at about the 78-minute mark of the film, Astin’s Rudy serves food to a very familiar-looking student. 

“{I was} a seminary student seated at a dining room table,” Weinman said. “And the idea was that Rudy was working hard to put himself through college. He was bussing tables and serving tables. He was essentially serving seminary students in a dining hall.”

Filming of Rudy took place during Weinman’s (class of 1993) senior year in South Bend. Since it was shot on location, there was no better place to find extras than on the university’s historic campus.  

“Any Notre Dame student on virtually any day during the time that they filmed on campus could have signed up to be an extra,” Weinman said. “All I did all day was sit at the table, and chat with the person across from me when they were filming the scene. I’m not a trained actor. I’m very good at sitting at a table for 11 hours. Yeah, I was able to do that.”

While Weinman was on set for 11 hours, only a few seconds of footage made it into the final cut of the movie. It might not have been because of his acting chops but his scene was the only part of that day’s work that made it past the editing room. 

“The scene they filmed that day was a dialogue between Rudy and the student newspaper reporter who appears a few times in the movie.  Clearly, the original script had a love interest emerge from this relationship.  But no such storyline ended up in the film.  Thus, all that survived from that day of filming were two short clips, maybe five seconds total, of Rudy serving food to the table that I was seated at during a musical montage of clips of Rudy at work, in school, and on the football field.  It lacks any clear context or connection to the storyline, but made it in somehow, nonetheless,” Weinman said in an e-mail to Center Field.

Weinman’s close friend, roommate, and eventual best man, Tom Hitselberger, was also on set as an extra that day. While the friends started the filming sitting across from one another, Hitselberger got moved away and ended up not making it into the final cut.

“Debate has raged for 30 years about who was luckier, Tom or me,” Weinman quipped.

As an extra, Weinman made the federal minimum wage, $3.35 per hour, before getting time-and-a-half for the three hours of overtime he put in that day. He ended up netting $43 for his efforts but almost decided to keep the check as a souvenir.

In an experience that pretty much every college student can relate to, he needed the money and immediately cashed the check.

Weinman’s pay stub from his work as an extra (from Kevin Weinman)

While many students did not know very much about the actual story of Rudy Ruettiger, who played for the team in 1975, they were much more in tune with the football team’s success in the then-present day.

To Weinman, “Notre Dame is kind of the perfect place for an underdog story because of its appeals to a broad range of the country.”

While Rudy may have been the ultimate underdog, in the years encompassing Weinman’s time in South Bend, the Irish were a juggernaut.

In 1988, a year before Weinman arrived, the Irish went a perfect 12-0, winning the Fiesta Bowl en route to a national title. During his four years in South Bend, Weinman only saw the program lose eight times under famed coach Lou Holtz. The Irish couldn’t quite get back to the top of the mountain but they ended all four of Weinman’s years ranked inside the top 15 of the AP poll.

As you watch the ending of Rudy, you see that the final scenes were of the kickoff and the main character’s iconic sack of the opposing quarterback. Both of those scenes were shot in one take during an actual game in Notre Dame stadium with 59,000 fans looking on. 

“They had to nail it in just a few minutes,” Weinman said. “And they did. It was a blast watching.” 

While Weinman was technically part of this iconic scene, the fans that were in the crowd however were not credited in the film because they were just part of the background but he could still lay claim to being present for the triumphant ending of the feel-good story.

Weinman rarely gets to go back to South Bend more than once a year but his love for sports doesn’t stop with the Irish.

In his time in Poughkeepsie, the president has seen more than his fair share of Marist sporting events ranging from football at Tenney Stadium, to club hockey at the Civic Center, to even traveling to Dublin, Ireland to watch the women’s basketball team play in the MAAC-ASUN Challenge.

While Notre Dame and Marist might be at different ends of the spectrum when it comes to Division I athletics, Weinman feels that the institutions share some key similarities.

Weinman mentioned that, “Notre Dame is like Marist,” and then, later on, mentioned how both schools are, “growing in size and physical footprint.” 

“[Marist is] embracing its roots as a liberal institution but celebrating the growth in our professional and pre-professional programs,” Weinman said. “[And] both, Notre Dame and Marist, are deeply rooted in values and spirit of service and camaraderie.”

With that said, Weinman’s background makes sense being a Notre Dame undergraduate and seeing how comparable Notre Dame and Marist are. He mentioned that both schools show that they are, “here to support each other,” then he goes into saying how, “Marist and Notre Dame are schools where you see more students wearing attire from their school instead of other schools in the country.” 

While the Red Foxes would have a tough time competing against the Irish in pretty much any Division I sport, the Weinman and his very brief appearance in one of the most famous sports movies of all time have helped to form an unlikely connection between Marist and Notre Dame.

Edited by Jonathan Kinane and Andrew Hard

Photos provided by Kevin Weinman

Author: Derek Dowgiallo

My name is Derek Dowgiallo, I am from South Kingstown, Rhode Island. I am currently studying Sports Communication at Marist College in the class of 2025.

Leave a Reply