CINCINNATI – Everywhere you shot Thursday night there were stories about Kyle Rudolph.
The narrow end of the Minnesota Vikings returned to Elder High School for the 43rd annual sport stag on Thursday night. An estimated 1,180 attended the sold-out event, including a packed crowd in the wrestling gym, and everyone wanted to see “Rudy”.
“A five-star guy with a five-star heart,” said elder trainer Doug Ramsey of his earlier appearance.
Rudolph, a 2008 elder graduate, stopped to take pictures, chatted with friends, and caught up with the Elder High School community.
He spoke on various subjects. There were carefree moments including some inside stories about the Pro Bowl.
There were emotional times when he discussed his family and eloquently described his experiences with elders and the support he received. He also stressed the importance of giving back to a community like the Twin Cities.
“For us (Kyle and his wife Jordan) it’s all about giving a lot, expecting a lot,” said Rudolph. “We try to give as much of ourselves as possible.”
In the early afternoon he chatted with the older students, enjoying every moment and ending the interviews with a smile. He also gave his phone number to some soccer players and said he would be there if they needed advice.
“I think for a lot of our guys – they were in awe,” said Ramsey. “It was really something special.”
WATCH: Rudolph chats with WCPO sports reporter Mike Dyer
Rudolph, 29, was the first elder graduate to appear as a stag speaker. Under the sports stag’s banner was a smaller one that welcomed him home in purple, the color of the Vikings and panthers.
He told the large audience that he appreciated the fact that Elder had prepared him not only physically but also academically. The ability to look a team officer or chief executive officer in the eye during a meeting is an attitude he learned from his upbringing as an Elder and West Side.
Beyond the soccer field, Rudolph’s influence in the twin cities is well documented. He was nominated for the 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, and Kyle and his wife opened Kyle Rudolph’s end zone at the University of Minnesota Children’s Masonic Hospital in December.
The 2,500 square meter room was built as a haven for children and families undergoing treatment. It houses an indoor basketball hoop, an area with a television and video games, a digital sports simulator, a kitchen, a lounge area with wall table games for patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and a quiet room for families.
For patients with conditions that prohibit them from leaving their room, the Rudolphs make personal visits to the room. Rudolph’s year-round commitment enables him to build deep and meaningful relationships with patients and their families.
“I tell people all the time,” I can talk forever about what Kyle has achieved and what he’s going to achieve in sports, “said Ramsey.” ‘But I think it’s the other things that make him special.’ “
Rudolph was also instrumental in helping Elder develop plans for a new 19,000-square-foot fitness center on Vincent and Regina Avenues in Price Hill. The project is expected to be completed in May.
“He wants to make things better for the future,” said Elder Sporting Director Kevin Espelage earlier this school year. “… It was never about putting one’s name on this building or anything like that. It’s all about, “How can I give something back to Elder High School to appreciate what they have done for me, but also something that will improve the Elder High School experience?”
Rudolph was an avid competitor, but also a teammate and player to count on. That hasn’t changed.
“I’ve always thought how difficult it must be to be ‘Rudy’ and stand in public with everyone watching your movements,” said Elder basketball coach Joe Schoenfeld. “Then I realized that it probably isn’t as hard as I thought because Kyle is just a really nice person. He is authentic – being Rudy is not an act. “