Ben Malcolmson is the movie “Rudy” come to life — a student journalist-turned walk-on football player at the University of Southern California who overcame injuries and adversity to get a chance to briefly play for then-Trojans head coach Pete Carroll.
Malcolmson is now special assistant to Carroll, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. He recently spoke to approximately 100 students at Mercer Island High School about the importance of perseverance and reaching their potential.
He had the MIHS students take a brief character self-assessment, asking them to identify their strongest character traits, their weaknesses and people in their lives they want to emulate. To do that, he urged the students to “increase your grit,” actions that the Seahawks organization use to be successful on and off the field, utilizing many of Carroll’s motivational techniques.
They include performing “deliberate practice” in an area of their lives, showing self-control, choosing to persevere, associating with people who are “grittier” than you, improving self-awareness and selecting something to improve in your life.
“Writing down a commitment has great power for immense positive change in your life,” Malcolmson said.
For him, that commitment was trying out for the USC football team against all odds and making the practice squad, then getting hurt and choosing to come back yet again. His “Rudy” moment came when Carroll put him in at the end of the game against Notre Dame to the delight of more than 90,000 fans in attendance. Carroll later hired him to work at USC, and then as his special assistant when Carroll was hired as head coach of the Seahawks.
For the past 10 years, Malcolmson has been Carroll’s right-hand man, handling his schedule, personal appearances, social media accounts and websites. He also volunteers with youth groups in the Mercer Island community. Striving to connect on a personal level with as many students as possible, he attends local sporting events, and numerous club activities.
“This is the sixth time he has come to my classes at the high school and he has inspired kids every time,” said MIHS English/business teacher Jan Sayers. “Ben genuinely cares about our students. He wants to ensure that they make positive and ethical decisions so they can reach their full personal and academic potential.”