Less than 8% of all high school football players reach the college ranks. At 49 years young, North Dakota State College of Science freshman Ray Ruschel is one of them.

NDSCS nose guard Ray Ruschel tackles football at 49 years old

NDSCS nose guard Ray Ruschel (94) shares conversation with water boy Jack Barton. The 49-year-old student athlete is a personable figure amongst teammates, coaches and fans.

He’s easy to spot. His bald head shines under the sun at Frank Vertin Field in Wahpeton. The contrast is clear when he kneels down to share conversation with the Wildcats' young water boy, Jack Barton. Teammates dap him up, giving high fives and cracking smiles as Ruschel fits right in like a missing puzzle piece.

NDSCS nose guard Ray Ruschel tackles football at 49 years old

Ray Ruschel fights through a Minnesota West double team, pushing past two offensive linemen with a hand pressed against his helmet and two more shoved into his chest.

NDSCS nose guard Ray Ruschel tackles football at 49 years old

Fitness is king in Ray Ruschel’s daily regimen. The U.S. Army veteran credits the military with keeping his body in shape as he clashes with players three decades younger.



Sports Reporter

Robert has spent over a decade reporting Twin Towns Area athletics, coaching baseball and officiating sporting events. From MMA to golf, he covers the entire sports spectrum through stories, photos and videos. He was named Rookie of the Year in 2021 by the North Dakota Newspaper Association.