A two-time NFL Super Bowl champion helps Flathead athletes achieve their own goals
Story by Dillon Tabish | Photography by Greg LindstromTom Brady. Brett Favre. Eli Manning. Few people have worked with three of the NFL’s most successful quarterbacks as closely — literally —as Grey Ruegamer.
A third-round selection in the 1999 NFL draft, Ruegamer played center for 11 years and earned two Super Bowl rings, with the New England Patriots in 2001 and the New York Giants in 2008. The 6-foot-4 lineman, who is a member of the Arizona State Sun Devil Athletics Hall of Fame, retired in 2009 after suffering a career-ending injury in training camp with the Seattle Seahawks.
Following his accomplished NFL career, Ruegamer has focused on helping others achieve their dreams. He served as an assistant coach at the University of Washington before moving to Montana, where his family has roots in Cut Bank.
Ruegamer is a health and wellness coach at The Summit Medical Fitness Center in Kalispell, where he helps athletes and others set and achieve life goals and improve their overall wellness.
Flathead Living caught up with Ruegamer to discuss his journey to the NFL and now Northwest Montana.
Flathead Living: Were there any obstacles you had to overcome as you tried to pursue a career in the NFL? If so, how did you overcome them?
Grey Ruegamer: The NFL is a strange, alluring prospect for millions of young men every year. I was no different as a kid growing up, wanting be a professional player. I had to get over some early obstacles in my career just to make it to college. I had to get out of my own way. Many young men think they are invincible – so did I. I learned the hard way that attitude is contagious. I was told I would never be successful by teachers, parents and peers because of my attitude. They were right. I couldn’t have succeeded if I didn’t start applying what I knew to be right and stop making poor decisions out of spite and emotion. Once that changed, the obstacles became a matter of how hard I wanted to work to make a dream come true.
FL: What’s a highlight or memory from your NFL career that you like to look back on?
Ruegamer: I don’t know that I can pick out one highlight or memory. I was very fortunate to have a great career playing with some great coaches, teams and teammates. I will always remember the smiles and good times my family and friends had around football. We experienced so many cool things because of it. My family was a great support system, traveling to games like the first international game at Wembley Stadium in England, a 118-degree Arizona oven and a sphincter-puckering -22 degrees in Lambeau (the home field of the Green Bay Packers). Add to that playoff losses and Super Bowl wins and it doesn’t get much better than that.
FL: What made you want to transition to your current position at The Summit Medical Fitness Center?
Ruegamer: Montana is a special place with special people. My transition to The Summit is another opportunity to coach and teach others to make a lasting positive impact. I work with an awesome team of wellness coaches who help people figure out and overcome obstacles to improve their lives, and I want to be a part of that.
FL: What are some common factors/obstacles you have encountered with patients who seek your help as a health and wellness coach?
Ruegamer: The desire to change and the courage to seek assistance is the starting point for everyone. It can be uncomfortable to acknowledge problems but also very gratifying. I believe we all like to accomplish things and overcome obstacles. Setting the right frame of mind and putting together a plan to accomplish that can be very powerful. The Wellness staff at the The Summit does a tremendous job of that.
FL: What do you like about living in the Flathead Valley so far?
Ruegamer: What’s not to like?
Grey Ruegamer is a certified health and wellness coach at The Summit Medical Fitness Center and Kalispell Regional Healthcare in Kalispell. To schedule a session with Ruegamer or one of the other coaches, call 751-4102 or visit www.kalispellregional.org/summit/fitness.