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February 16, 2010

At 56, Hot Roddy Rullman Still King of Crease

by Carly Jayne Rullman | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Former Virginia great Rodney Rullman, with daughter Carly, after a Masters Division lacrosse event.

It was the summer of 2006, and I had just finished my freshman year of college. I was home in Charlottesville, Virginia, to spend time with my family -- which is why I wouldn't think twice about waking up at 5 a.m. with my dad on Fathers Day to travel to his Charm City Lacrosse Tournament.

First off, What kind of daughter would I be not to be with my father on his special day? And second, how many daughters can say their dad still plays in the lacrosse goal at age 56?

A dusty old Sports Illustrated tells me that my father, Rodney Rullman, led the Virginia Cavaliers to the 1972 national championship. The winning did not end there. A goalie, he went on to record the most saves in the history of Virginia lacrosse (only recently broken by Tillman Johnson), was  a two time All-American and, finally, won the heart of a "lacrosse groupie" who I know best as my mother.

And while all of this is remarkable, he does not flaunt his glory days. He could care less about the trophies, plaques and certificates in our basement. He just loves to be around lacrosse and strives to promote its greatness.

Sure, he appreciates all of the recognition he received during his collegiate days and the recognition he has received since, but his way of giving back is to simply continue playing and coaching.

Consider him a missionary for lacrosse, teaching dedication and trying to make a player the best he or she can be.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has goalie-coached the area's high school's boys' lacrosse team. On weekends, he coaches individual lessons to beginners and even collegiate-level goalies. He helps run a summer clinic for young kids.

Did I mention he does all of this free of charge?

Sure, he could make some extra cash doing all of this, but he simply enjoys coaching, playing and volunteering his time so much that making money off it is of no importance.

I remember a time he even drove an hour to Richmond, on his own tank of gas, just to coach a kid whose father couldn't get him to our town. He's so loyal, he started coaching one high school player and has seen her through her successful college career. They keep in touch regularly, and I know she and her family appreciate him for that. (We've gotten a holiday gift basket or two.)

There is one article my dad keeps in plain sight of our basement. It's taped to his bathroom mirror and features former Redskins lineman Ray Brown, who, at that time, was entering his 20th NFL season. Despite being the league's oldest player at 42, he had "extraordinary longevity" and was one whom "time never caught up to."

Rod won't say anything about this article other than it is an inspiration. And I guess it has worked. He recently won a tournament with Team Harley Davidson down in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

I know that when my dad sees this article, he is going to wonder what my motivation is. (No Dad, I don't need money.)

I'm just proud of him. For all the lives he has changed through the sport of lacrosse, I would gladly wake up for him at 5 a.m. any morning. He is my personal inspiration when it comes to pursuing a dream, never giving up and giving back to the community.

If I do say so myself, I think he represents us laxers quite nicely.

Carly Jayne Rullman is the daughter of former Virginia men's lacrosse goalie Rodney Rullman. "Hot Rod" led the Cavaliers to a national championship as a freshman in 1972. He would go on to become a three-time All-American and win the C. Markland Kelly Award as the nation's top goalkeeper in 1975. In 2008, he tried out for Major League Lacrosse's Washington Bayhawks at age 54. He currently plays in the Masters Division (age 35 and older) for Team Harley Davidson.


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