Skip to main content

Age is just a number. And defensive lineman Ray Ruschel proves that.

The 49-year-old has made national headlines after he decided to play for the North Dakota State Colleges of Science football team in Wahpeton, near the Minnesota border. 

Valley News Live reporter Jack Wallace said Ruschel has been an active duty member with the United States military for the past 17 years and is currently enlisted in the North Dakota Army National Guard. He was told about the team from a friend in his Army unit and decided to try out for the team.

Ruschel is a freshman this year, majoring in business management. His head coach, Eric Issendorf, is a year younger than Ruschel. 

The quirky tale of the oldest college football player in the country attracted the attention of the Washington Post, which reports the previous holder of the mantle was Tom Gore, who strapped on the shoulder pads in 2021 to play for North Carolina's Methodist University at age 45. 

Ruschel, who last played high school football in 1992 at Trinity High School in Washington, Pennsylvania, moved to North Dakota in 2018. The Post reports that Ruschel is a father of two adult children and works the midnight to 8 a.m. shift as a mechanic at Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative.

He said his goal of enrolling at the college was to become a supervisor at his work with the degree he would earn.

Tom Brady is still playing football. LeBron James has said he intends to play into his 40s. And for Ruschel, he's just doing what makes him happy.

“I want to live life,” Ruschel said in an interview with Valley News Live. “If I had the chance and I didn’t take it, I would regret it. I had a chance, and I’m taking it, and I’m living life to the fullest," adding that he's surprising himself by being able to keep up with his younger teammates.

Next Up


Body found in burned out car near Bird Island identified as local farmer

The deceased is a 59-year-old man from rural Bird Island.

Screen Shot 2022-12-06 at 2.47.44 PM

Minneapolis' Khâluna named in Eater's 2022 'Best New Restaurants'

The restaurant, opened in 2021, is known for its Laotian cuisine.

ambulance, crash

3 pedestrians struck by drivers Monday in Minnesota; 2 dead

The victims involved a 39-year-old man and two 74-year-old men.

snow, plow

Shifting storm tracks: Significant storms Friday, next week?

Sven Sundgaard has the details on an interesting forecast.

Life Link

Worker suffers serious injury in rooftop fall in rural Minnesota

The man only fell a few feet, but suffered a serious leg injury.

Walz, Flanagan

Minnesota reports massive projected budget surplus of $17.6 billion

The huge surplus comes as the DFL prepares to assume a trifecta of the Legislature and the Governor's House.


Boil water advisory issued for part of Minneapolis after water main break

The main break caused significant flooding in an area of North Minneapolis Monday evening.


Deals struck between nursing union and hospitals, potentially averting strike

A strike was scheduled to start on Dec. 11 if a deal was not reached.

Minnesota Solar Installation - All Energy Solar

Make the Most of your Solar Panels with Energy Storage

Solar energy is great during the day, but what happens when the sun goes down?


Screen Shot 2019-11-10 at 9.43.19 AM

Can the Gophers actually make the College Football Playoff?

It's the best start to a Gopher football season in 115 years.

MN college loses 32 players, cancels football season

The future of football at Ridgewater College is being evaluated.