Navy SEAL Tom Hruby tried out for the Northwestern University football team as a walk-on this season.
Based on the posted Wildcats 2014 roster, it appears he made the team (jersey #35), which is probably no surprise at all for someone who has successfully managed the demanding SEAL training.
Defying the odds, a walk-on is someone who wasn’t recruited out of high school or another college for the team and is not getting a college scholarship for participating. Walk-ons are sometimes awarded a scholarship after they prove themselves.
A junior at Northwestern after transferring from junior college, Hruby is 32 and the father of three young kids with a lot on his plate.
“Hruby (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) is balancing football, rigorous coursework, married life and his duties as a SEAL instructor at Great Lakes Naval Station, which is about 30 miles north of Northwestern’s campus in Evanston, Ill.”
He saved up all his leave in order to compete in the team’s three-week August training camp. During the week, he lives on campus in a Northwestern dorm and goes home on the weekends.
As an active SEAL since 2006, Hruby has reportedly served all over the world, including in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is a “breacher” — someone trained in explosives and forced entry
Hruby told the Chicago Sun-Times, “I don’t feel like where I’m at today is some outstanding or amazing thing. It’s just more of a challenging route… the way I kind of think about finding and accepting and trying to take on these challenges that most people would probably say are impossible, one, or very unlikely or just plain dumb.”
Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald described Hruby as “a man’s man” and “absolutely relentless.” According to Hruby’s SEAL team chief, “It doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s just what’s the next challenge? Without a challenge in front of guys like Tom, what’s the point of living? That first six months [of SEAL training], they want to see what you’re made of. Tom has always had that character in him.”
The team lost its season opener yesterday at home versus California by a score of 31-24. From the box score, it does not appear that Navy SEAL Tom Hruby played in the game, but the season is young. Northwestern squares off against Northern Illinois at Ryan Field in Evanston next Saturday