What if … ?

“Former otre Dame President Father Ted Hesburgh with Martin Luther King, Jr. at a civil rights rally in 1964."

“Former otre Dame President Father Ted Hesburgh with Martin Luther King, Jr. at a civil rights rally in 1964.”

Guest Post by Oscar McBride

Family –

As I sit here today basking in the freedom of living in the United States of America and celebrating Martin Luther King Day, I had some random thoughts (as I often do) run through my mind. These thoughts made me ask the inevitable question: “what if?”

The obvious first question I asked was: “What if there was no Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?” I think this question is particularly poignant given the time and the rise of civil rights leaders. Medgar Evers was assassinated on his driveway in June of 1963 and Malcolm was assassinated in February of 1965 presumably by The Nation. At that time, King stood alone in his quest for equality using a non-violent approach.

I couldn’t help but ask myself: “If there was no Dr. King would I be able to enjoy the freedoms I enjoy today as an African-American? Would someone else have risen to the forefront to open American’s eyes to the blatant inequalities running rampant in society?

Wait … wait … don’t click off just yet … this isn’t a Civil Rights history lesson – but rather a collection of thoughts that will I’ll bring to conclusion a little later …

Lemme ‘splain.

The aforementioned thoughts gave way to my thinking about how much sport has changed and how many African American student-athletes forgo their collegiate experience and completing their educations for the money and fame of the professional ranks.

Hmmmmm … Let’s see.

There are 102 underclassmen leaving for the NFL this season. Given the known demographic that 67% of all NFL players are African-American it would be safe to assume that at least that percentage number of student-athletes leaving early for the NFL are also African-American.

Let’s be clear here … I’m not suggesting that student-athletes should risk losing millions of dollars as a professional in order to stay in school… what I am suggesting is that maybe there should be a change to the letters of intent they sign out of high school.

Enter my second question: “What if the NCAA changed the national letters of intent? What if all student-athletes were required to reimburse the institutions that paid for them to attend and play sports?”

Check this out…

Let’s say a player left early for the NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL. If there was a clause in the national letter of intent which stated that if a player left early he would be required to:

1. Reimburse the college or university for half of the financial aid and benefits he received during his time there

AND

2. Required to return to the college of university previously attended and pay for his full tuition and books in an effort to insure he completes his education

would we have as many student-athletes leaving early for the professional ranks? Interesting concept isn’t it?

Again, this isn’t a quest to deter student-athletes from seizing opportunities presented to them, but rather adding a level of conscience responsibility to their thought process. I love sport … especially high school sport, but once the “leap” is made to the next level there seems to be a fundamental disconnect to the ultimate reason student-athletes are called STUDENT-ATHLETES not ATHLETE-STUDENTS.

Anyway, I just thought I would share some of my random thoughts with you today… let me know what you think. I would be interested to hear your perspective.

Sport is Life.

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Help Oscar McBride and “Fit 4 Life Youth Foundation” | The Men We Became Raffle

fitforlife

In honor of BEAT USC week I’d like to help out the Irish Player Charities charity of the month, Oscar McBride’s “Fit 4 Life Youth Foundation.”

Fit4Life Youth Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation founded with the immediate goal of combating America’s fastest growing health epidemic – childhood obesity.

Statistics illustrate the breadth of this epidemic, its negative health consequences, and its cost to Americans. Fit4Life is proud to join this battle and become a leader in the fight by offering programs to get our youth moving towards a healthier lifestyle.

One of the most critical factors in combating the epidemic of obese and overweight children is meeting the challenge of getting our kids to exercise more. Part of this process requires organizations such at Fit4Life to offer fun and inspiring, yet challenging exercise programs that will engage and encourage our children toward a lifetime of fitness. This process also requires instruction and education to balance proper nutrition with the appropriate level of fitness.

By offering a variety of programs, Fit4Life hopes to reach all youth. No one is immune to the economic and societal consequences brought on by the multitude of health conditions suffered due to childhood obesity. Childhood obesity is an epidemic, one that does not discriminate. It touches all of us.

Beyond physical fitness programs, Fit4Life also seeks to educate its participants on the importance of education, character and leadership development through its mentorship programs which use sport, culture and positive life experiences as the relational platform. Please visit our Programs and Headlines pages to see our most recent endeavors.

To help Oscar’s foundation I am holding a raffle this week. The winning entry will win a copy of “The Men We Became” signed by:

Tony Rice – 88 Championship Team
Pat Terrell – 88 Championship Team
John Foley – 88 Championship Team
Marv Russell – 73 Championship Team
Rick Mirer – Class of 93
Reggie Brooks – Class of 93
Oscar McBride – Class of 94

To enter the raffle please donate $10 to my paypal account through LKND93@sbcglobal.net along with your name and contact information.

On Saturday morning, October 19th I will draw one lucky winner who will win a signed copy of the book.

All proceeds will be donated to Oscar’s “Fit 4 Life Youth Foundation.”

Thank you in advance for your support and GO IRISH!

Cheers!

Lisa

Help the Mirer Family Foundation | Shamrock Series Ticket Raffle

mirer family foundatonNotre Dame will be playing Arizona State in Arlington Texas on October 5, 2013. In connection with the game, the Mirer Family Foundation hosting an on-line raffle. There will be multiple winners. There will also be interim drawings as donations come in. Any one who donates $25 to the Mirer Family Foundation through our PayPal account between now and September 28th will get one chance in the raffle.

Prizes for Final Drawing:

The grand prize will be 2 tickets to the game, 2 VIP tickets to the Notre Dame October 4, 2013 lunch in Ft. Worth, a full size Notre Dame football autographed by Rick Mirer and a Lisa Kelly autographed copy of newly released The Men We Became.

Prizes 2-5 (4 winners)- 2 VIP tickets to the Notre Dame October 4, 2013 lunch in Ft. Worth, a mini Notre Dame football helmet autographed by Rick Mirer and a Lisa Kelly autographed copy of newly released The Men We Became.

Interim Drawings:

As donations are received, we will be drawing for a Lisa Kelly autographed copy of The Men We Became. The first 50 donors will be in the first drawing. When we reach 100 donors there will be a second drawing with all 100 donors eligible. The following drawings will be held at each 100 level (i.e. 200, 300, etc.). Initial donors will be in all drawings, thus for best odds move quickly.

Shamrock Series on-line raffle. Donate $25 per chance to win our prizes including the grand prize of 2 ND vs. ASU game tickets in Dallas, 2 VIP luncheon tickets and an autographed ball. All donations between now and September 28, 2013 qualify!

Donate HERE

Cheers!

Lisa

The Game of Football

FBGuest Post | Oscar McBride

In light of the recent allegations and controversies swirling around our favorite collegiate and professional football teams, I thought I would take a moment to point out some of the great things the game presents.

Now that said, it would have been much easier for me to jump on the bandwagon and add my minimal kerosene to the proverbial fire; but I thought to myself, “Why?” Seems that’s a recurring question regarding the sport so many of us know and love today … “why?”

Let’s dig a little deeper shall we?

Whether it’s the “Thug Life” mentality of former New England Patriots Tight End Aaron Hernandez, the seemingly juvenile behavior of “Johnny Football,” NCAA violations running rampant in the SEC (duh), or the most recent scandal which could ultimately destroy a thriving Oklahoma State program we all tune in to see when the next hammer will fall and who’s head it might crush on impact. Forgetting about the real reason any of this stuff is happening …

Hello people! It’s all because some young man has a talent to play one of the greatest games ever invented … football.

Wait … wait … before your guys go all ACLU on me I’m not taking anything away from basketball, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, track & field, tennis, swimming, rugby, golf, cricket, boxing, equestrian, MMA or ahh-hem … cheerleading … all I’m saying is that football makes sense to me.

Lemme ‘splain.

Football is truly “America’s Game.”

The struggle of the game makes sense. All of the hard work for months for only a few minutes of glory to be realized or dreams to be smashed. Honestly, did you ever do the math about how much time players spend in the off-season preparing for a total of only 480 minutes (8 hours) in high school and usually only 720 minutes (12 hours) in college? Can you say 8-9 months of struggle, work, pain and preparation for one live day?

Think about it … when’s the last time you worked on a job for nine months and didn’t get paid?

Uh huh … That’s what I thought.

All of the disciplines, feelings, emotions and experiences that football teaches (in my mind) out-weigh all of the perversions that come with the success it brings. Hard work, tenacity, family, team work, selflessness, timeliness, focus, relentlessness, confidence, sacrifice, intelligence, fearlessness, bravery, joy, happiness, sadness, hope, fear, anger, brotherhood, camaraderie, intensity, vulnerability, swagger, power, anxiety, discipline, stress, ferocity, passion, and love are just a few of the things that come to mind when I think of football.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what NCAA rules or laws are being broken by the athletes who play – we love the game and what it represents. The players of today will one day be replaced by others who are just as good if not better than they … and when that time comes we will continue to, much like we do today, celebrate the game of football!

Sport is Life –

Oscar McBride

Cheers!

Echoes From the End Zone: The Men We Became – Book Launch Party

MeBookMelody(St. Louis) The Notre Dame Alumni Club of St. Louis is happy to announce the publication of distinguished alumna and club member Lisa Kelly’s new book. The book distills dozens of interviews with former ND football players into 25 stories representing their impressions of how Our Lady’s University molded them into the people they are now.

The official release date is August 1, and we will be hosting a launch party on August 21st [new date!] at BlackFinn at the Galleria (the same location used for football game watches). Lisa will be on hand to speak to us about everything that went into making the book happen. Two of the men from the book will also be on hand … ALVIN MILLER and JOHN FOLEY!

(Also, every person who purchases a book will be entered into a drawing for a bottle of Mirror Wine – courtesy of Lisa Kelly and Rick Mirer of Mirror Wines!)

Echoes From the End Zone: The Men We Became

The Notre Dame Student-Athlete: Sports fans may have an idea of what it takes to play football at a Division I college: the training, the discipline, the pain, the motivation. But most of us have no idea what it takes to be a successful student-athlete at a top academic institution such as Notre Dame.

Being a successful student-athlete at the University of Notre Dame requires more effort than working two full-time jobs: one needs dedication, determination, and a drive to succeed – to be the best both physically and mentally – and to learn and achieve despite the pain, despite the disappointments, and without letting the successes – both on and off the field – inflate your ego.

Echoes From The End Zone: The Men We Became tells the story of 25 former Notre Dame football players:

• the lessons they learned in college, and how those
lessons changed their lives: The Notre Dame Value Stream
• their years at Notre Dame
• the end of their football careers
• the new careers and dreams they followed

Their stories and career choices may surprise you, but by each of these former Notre Dame student-athletes you will be impressed and inspired by the choices they made so early in life that enabled them to succeed beyond The End Zone. For more information please visit www.themenwebecame.com

Echoes From the End Zone: The Men We Became

endzone2_lowerresThe Notre Dame Student-Athlete: Sports fans may have an idea of what it takes to play football at a Division I college: the training, the discipline, the pain, the motivation. But most of us have no idea what it takes to be a successful student-athlete at a top academic institution such as Notre Dame.

Being a successful student-athlete at the University of Notre Dame requires more effort than working two full-time jobs: one needs dedication, determination, and a drive to succeed – to be the best both physically and mentally – and to learn and achieve despite the pain, despite the disappointments, and without letting the successes – both on and off the field – inflate your ego.

Echoes From The End Zone: The Men We Became tells the story of 25 former Notre Dame football players:

  • the lessons they learned in college, and how those lessons changed their lives: The Notre Dame Value Stream
  • their years at Notre Dame
  • the end of their football careers
  • the new careers and dreams they followed

What happens to these exceptional Notre Dame student-athletes after they graduate? Some go on to play professional football, for a time. Some have injuries, and never have the opportunity to play sports professionally. Others experiment with different career choices, searching for the right fit. Many pursue career goals carried since childhood, while others build families, return to their hometowns, and travel the world. But all of these former student-athletes must create a new life after their playing days end: a life where they are no longer in the spotlight, no longer admired for their physical attributes, and no longer glorified in the media.

Their stories and career choices may surprise you, but by each of these former Notre Dame student-athletes you will be impressed and inspired by the choices they made so early in life that enabled them to succeed beyond The End Zone.

Please stay tuned for more information on how and where to purchase the book.

The Evolution of the Student-Athlete at Notre Dame

GodCountryNotreDameIn light of the recent quarterback issue at Notre Dame, I thought it might be helpful to take a look at what it means to be a student-athlete at Notre Dame.

(Excerpt from Lisa’s new book, “Echoes From the End Zone: The Men We Became”)

“I didn’t know what in the hell I was doing when I first took the job,” said Mike DeCicco, a mechanical engineering professor at Notre Dame back in 1964 when he accepted Father Joyce’s offer to become the Chief Academic Advisor, Student-Athletes, a newly created position. Notre Dame executive vice president Rev. Edmund P. Joyce C.S.C. and then President Father Theodore Hesburgh had a vision and felt a moral commitment that the University’s excellence in athletics wasn’t good enough. This was Notre Dame; and Our Lady of Victory was ready to create a new era in collegiate sports. No – these young men would become much more than mere “jocks” – instead now and forever known as “Notre Dame Student-Athletes.”

In a 1988 interview with Blue & Gold Illustrated, Mike recalled he had no idea what to do, but it was clear that Hesburgh and Joyce would know success when they saw it. “There was no template or benchmark for success. I’d sit down with a kid and ask how his school work was going. He’d say, ‘Okay.’ I’d say, ‘Fine.’ And that was that. Then when grades would be posted, I’d discover a lot were not doing as well as they said they were.” Mike quickly learned he had to stay on top of each student-athlete’s progress on a weekly basis, not once they were in academic trouble.

Mike created a methodology that would become the model for the best universities, and a standard to be adopted by the NCAA. During Mike’s time as the ND Athletic Department’s Chief Academic Advisor, ninety-nine percent who were enrolled and stayed in school for four years graduated. In 1988, Notre Dame became the first school ever to win a football national title while at the same time graduating one hundred percent of its players. Of the 59 other College Football Association member institutions who returned results that year, the graduation rate was 50.7 percent.

Mike always credited Father Joyce and Father Hesburgh for having the vision to create a position that many felt was unnecessary. “They recognized the constraints and time-factor difficulties student-athletes would eventually have with the increased emphasis on intercollegiate sports.” Mike said. The three of them felt that if they were asking athletes to give their service and energy to the University, the University at the very least could assure them an equal chance to earn a degree along with the rest of their fellow classmates.

Mike’s team set up tutorial services and a ten day orientation program which taught time management and proper study habits, and a summer school program; all of which have been a mandatory part of the academic year of a student-athlete for years. Luther Bradley and Marv Russell, two of the former student-athletes featured in this book, recalled Mike’s role in their lives.“Two-months before we arrived on campus to start summer camp, we received a letter from this guy named Mike outlining academic expectations and what he and his team would do to ensure our success in school.”

Marv recalled, “I was a good student, studying theology which is a very tough major at a religious school like ND. Coach DeCicco (also the Notre Dame Fencing Coach) called me into his office and told me what it was going to take to be successful. He said ‘Marv, this is how it’s going to be. The minute I suspect you are not cutting it or you’re having problems, we are going to reassess your major.’ He said, ‘I want you to meet with a graduate assistant every two weeks to assess your progress. Remember: you will get no breaks or special consideration.’ I did what I was told and I was successful. Forty years later I saw Coach at a Notre Dame function and he still recalled that story. What made me feel great was when he said, ‘I’m proud of you Marv and what you have accomplished.’ ”

Luther was focused on business as his major. He and Marv laughed at Luther’s story of being called into Coach DeCicco’s office for a chat, “You remember that fencing sword he had mounted over his desk? I walked into his office and sat down and all he said was, ‘You see the sword behind me? If you don’t get busy and study harder, you are going to find that sword up your ass.’ Coach never minced words.” Luther said, “I wasn’t doing that bad in class, but he felt I wasn’t working to my potential. He wanted our best just like Ara did on the field.” Both Luther and Marv said what was even more important was if you weren’t performing in the classroom you could bet Ara knew and it was likely Moose Krause the AD knew and you were going to hear from all of them.

The football players interviewed in this book all realize how they benefited from the evolution of the Notre Dame “student-athlete” concept. Notre Dame is not an easy place for any student, let alone for those who have the additional demands of athletics. Without this visionary program, many athletes would be left by the wayside, as they are at so many other schools. Today, thanks to the leadership of Mike DeCicco, Father Hesburgh and Father Joyce, Notre Dame consistently leads NCAA schools in graduation rates and overall academic performance.

Coach DeCicco passed away in the spring of 2013. His impact on Notre Dame and the NCAA schools will be a legacy for decades to come. Notre Dame student-athletes owe a debt of thanks to this Loyal Son.

Mike DeCicco was Notre Dame at its finest – he was the Notre Dame Value Stream at work.

Cheers!

You can also follow more about the book on Twitter and Facebook!

(Mike DeCicco quotes taken from Blue Gold Illustrated.)