Navy SEAL, 32, trying to make it as Northwestern walk-on
By AUSTIN KNOBLAUCH | Los Angeles Times | Published: August 10, 2014
It's not every day that a 32-year-old tries to make it as a walk-on with a Division I football program. But, then again, Tom Hruby isn't a typical college football player.
Hruby, who is working toward earning a roster spot at Northwestern, is an active Navy SEAL with a wife and three kids.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Hruby is eagerly approaching the challenge of playing alongside athletes roughly a decade younger than him after serving in Navy SEAL operations in areas such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Southeast Asia.
"I don’t feel like where I’m at today is some outstanding or amazing thing,” Hruby told the Sun-Times. "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."
A junior at Northwestern, Hruby works as a Navy SEAL instructor at Great Lakes Naval Station near North Chicago, Ill. He lives on campus in the dorms and he visits his family on the weekends.
Hruby became a Navy SEAL in 2006 and joined SEAL Team 1 based in Coronado, Calif. He said several of the friends he made while in the military have died in combat.
“That’s the path you took as a soldier, as a warrior,” Hruby told the Sun-Times. “You just learn to come to terms with that’s what’s going to happen.”
Last year, he made a commitment to improve his education and embarked on his longstanding goal of earning a degree from Northwestern. He was accepted to the university last summer.
Listed at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Hruby is trying to make it as a special teams player for Northwestern.
“I know I couldn’t do it,” Northwestern Coach Fitzgerald told the Chicago Sun-Times. “He’s a man’s man."