Navy SEAL Makes Football Debut for Northwestern

A junior who walked on this season, Hruby was in on the game's opening kickoff

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A 32-year-old father of three who is an active Navy SEAL can now add college athlete to his list of accomplished titles.

Tom Hruby made his debut for Northwestern Saturday leading the team on the field while carrying the American flag.

A junior who walked on this season, Hruby was in on the game's opening kickoff. Married and a father of three, he was recently cleared to play by the Navy.

Northwestern lists him as 6 feet, 3 inches and 230 pounds.

Hruby still works as a SEAL instructor at Great Lakes Naval Station. He saved up his leave so he could participate in the Wildcats' three-week training camp this month.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald told the Chicago Sun-Times during the team tryouts he admires Hruby's drive. Fitzgerald said he doesn't think he could handle that many responsibilities at once.

"He was relentless, absolutely relentless, like you would suspect from a SEAL," he said.

Hruby was one of 32 people to graduate from his Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL class in late 2006. He then served as a breacher in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Although he has already taken on many difficult challenges as a Navy SEAL, Hruby thinks there's still more for him to prove to himself. SEAL Team Chief David Goggins is among few people who understands Hruby's latest endeavor.

"Without a challenge in front of guys like Tom, what's the point of living?" Goggins told the Sun-Times. "That first six months (of SEAL training), they want to see what you're made of. Tom has always had that character in him."

Hruby committed to four-hour study days to prepare for the SAT and training at EFT Sports Performance in Highland Park to prepare for football. He and his wife, Jen, sold their home in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, and moved in with Hruby's mom in Crown Point, Indiana. Because of the long commute, Hruby stays in a dorm room on campus and visits his family on the weekends.

Northwestern lost to Michigan Saturday 10-9.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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