Notre Dame Football Players are Golden

So often we hear about fallen athletes. Football stars that fail to exhibit even the most basic skills of humanity. Individuals that consistently put themselves before anyone else. Role models, that were once held up on a pillar, fall in a fiery spectacle of disgrace. What we should be be hearing about are those athletes that put others before themselves. Football players that think beyond the field and recognize the power that their position in life has on those that struggle. As a society we should be shining a light on teams and coaches that push their players to do good. Teams that provide their players an opportunity to reach out into their own communities to establish relationships with kids that look up to them.

This past week I had an opportunity to meet the angels of Notre Dame football. The men that play under the Golden Dome are more than just superb athletes. Football is a way of life in South Bend, IN and the players are idolized by many local kids. Notre Dame has shown their strength and abilities on the field time and again, and have demonstrated that they have what it takes to be successful collegiately and professionally. But that is not what impresses me about this team and school.

My son is 10 years old. He loves history and can tell you even the most remote fact about Ancient Egypt, regardless if you want to know it. He struggles in school and has attended more schools in his short life than an adult does in their entire lives. He has problems connecting with kids his age and often this leaves him shy and discouraged. His heart is the same color of the Notre Dame dome – Gold.

He has attended the Notre Dame football camp for three summers now. It is a fantastic program that the team runs for three half days in June. The players and coaches shout words of encouragement, they bolster the kids self esteem, they high five the kids when they catch the ball or get a tackle. It is an amazing camp that hosts over 600 children every year. Most of the kids are excited to be there, they are outgoing, they seek out the players to talk, and they have no qualms asking for an autograph. Most of the kids joke with their idols and are in awe that they are working out and learning next to a top collegiate athlete. Most of the kids smile and want to soak up every second.

But not my kid.

He keeps his head down. He barely talks to the kids in his group. He moves from one drill to another as if he is doing a death march. He wants to be at the camp, we would never force him to go, but he struggles with the pace and the loudness of the horns, the interaction with the players and kids his own age.

Until this year.

The week before camp two Notre Dame players took time from their own lives to come and have dinner at our house to meet our son. They talked to him, threw a ball with him, and joked with him. I haven’t seen him smile this much in a very long time. He held his head high when he came out and asked the gentlemen if they would like to see his room. He looked them in the eyes when he politely asked them, “Um excuse me would you like to throw the ball with me?” He laughed and giggled when they missed a throw, and wasn’t embarrassed when he did too.

The same two players told their coach about my son and on the first morning of camp that coach came up and introduced himself. He took the time to make my child feel comfortable. A simple gesture that went so far, he could never really understand. My son went to camp this year and for the first time ever he laughed with the other kids. I watched him talk to the players and he made it his quest to get every one of their signatures. I watched the players high five my guy and I saw happiness reflected in his face. I saw pride and excitement.

Notre Dame Football players are a group of gentlemen that have left me grateful to be a part of this community. They have gone out of their way to make this camp successful for my son, for no reason other than the fact that they are an amazing team. Regardless of what you want to say about some athletes, I have to say that Notre Dame are truly golden both on and off the field.

Jake ND1





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  1. Teri says:

    We are huge fans of Notre Dame in this house and this just added to our love. VERY cool!!

  2. This made me so teary. This is why we are Notre Dame fans.

    • They are a class act through and through. Hard to come by in most sports these days. They may have a few bad apples over time but as a whole they are one of the classiest group of men in collegiate sports.

  3. That made me cry! What a sweet story. Confession: I could care less about sports, but I will cheer for your Notre Dame this year 🙂

  4. What an awesome story and a wonderful program. So happy for your son!

    • I think it says a lot about the universities goals – it is not all about winning a championship it is about having students that are champion caliber.

  5. Made me so happy to read this kind act. I’m with Leigh – don’t care much about sports, but I can’t get enough of knowing about generous players like these men.

    • Thank you. There are just not enough stories about generous acts like this in the news. All we hear about is the bad, but there is plenty of good. Go IRISH!

  6. Yay for Jake and that you get to enjoy his enthusiasm! Awesome job Notre Dame

  7. My son played high school and college football. One of the most rewarding things he did was to coach a team for a youth league his senior year in high school. In my experience with him and his teammates I found them to be genuinely nice and giving young men. He’s now working in administration for a junior college team in Tucson, after graduating from college. Football is his passion! So glad your son had such a wonderful experience.

    • I wish more teams promoted community giving back. The ND players spent the week before camp doing community service activities. There were 10 players that helped out at my kids school for….Fabric Camp! Yes, they sat there with the little 7 and 8 year old girls and held their yarn and talked to them about knitting 🙂 My heart melts at the awesomeness of this. Congratulations to your son for being a role model to others, it just takes one act to touch a life of another and make a difference.

  8. Awwww… Love this as a mother of two shy boys. I always tell the teachers if you tease them a little they will loosen up.

    • Thanks Abbie! I find it hard to believe that you have shy boys since you are so sweet and outgoing 🙂

  9. I haven’t had the highest opinions of professional athletes as a rule, but this restored some of my faith. 🙂 What an amazing experience!

    • Lately the news would have you believe that they are all losers, but luckily we live near the ones that are golden.

  10. I get frustrated when I hear people disparage teens because in my experience, they are like these boys you mention. So many kind acts are easy to give, and have big ripples, and I am so glad for your son that these players found a way to make him happy and included.

    • Just imagine if we focused on the good that the players do instead of all the negative – now that would be the kind of role model kids could use.

  11. Gerald Snodgrass says:

    Thanks so much for sharing. But, thanks more for the message. Too often the focus is on the sensational and the disappointing. I would guess that moments like these outnumber the others 10 to 1, but we only hear the 1. Proud to wear the ring each and every day knowing we teach and foster service and leadership.

    • I agree there are so many more stories about the wonderful things these players do, but we only hear about the bad. Time to change the focus.

  12. Reading your post gave me chills. I imagined a downward facing boy turning into a smiling, laughing, confident child. I’ll never meet him, I know, bit I’m glad that I got to know him just a little bit through your writing. This is how ALL amateur and professional athletes (and teachers, ehem…) should be.

    • Thank you Bonnie, he is such a good kid I wish he could find a way to show the world more of him though. And yes, I really think the ND staff is onto something that they promote their players to have active roles in the community. Builds a better team and a better player.

  13. Mike says:

    This was an absolutely rock star awesome post! I grew up idolizing Notre Dame football as well here from the West Coast. That was the Joe Montana days when he threw for the Fightin’ Irish and Ara Parseghian and Dan Devine. All great memories. I also went to many basketball camps and met many great college and pro players. My point…those older men had a huge influence on me in a positive way as I was shy too. And your son will carry those memories with him forever. Thank you, thank you for the heart warming story and Memory Lane revisited for me personally! 🙂

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. ND really is a way of life, and the men and women that have graduated from there are not only intelligent individuals but the character they posses is outstanding. I am so thankful that this post meant something to you and helped you remember a wonderful time.

  14. Brian says:

    Cheers to your son for persevering! I know you will always remind him, as he gets older, that great things come to those that keep persevering with faith. You never know when God is going to open that door and make you smile.

    Go Irish!!

    • What a wonderful thought – God will open the door and make you smile. You just made me smile. Thank you! Go Irish!!

  15. Jana says:

    Sometimes the smallest acts of kindness lead to profound changes. What great guys – and what a great son you have.

    • Thank you, so nice of you to say. They truly didn’t have to make the effort, but they did and it meant something.

  16. Carrie says:

    Wow, wow, wow.

    What a great read and how great for you son! True inspiration there…it’s good to see there is still lots of goodness in the world.

    • It really is hard to find the good in the world but it should be found more often – hope.

  17. Aw, now that’s just downright uplifting. Here I thought I was going to be reading about hot soccer players or something.

  18. Edward D says:

    Am I the only one who finds it a bit odd that you’ve written about these Notre Dame players as “a group of gentlemen” who “are truly golden both on and off the field” on a blog entitled “The Shitastrophy: Massive Mess Ups, Fucked Up Situations, and Epic Fails”?

    For your son’s sake, I hope some of the players’ class and dignity might rub off on you.

    • Sir try getting a clue in life – it might help you out a bit. You are a true idiot. To take a wonderful experience my child had and turn into some ridiculous diatribe. Well feel free to leave and please let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

  19. This is an incredible story! I can just imagine how thrilled your son must have been and it does my heart good to hear stories like this, young men making an impact in a positive way. How nice would it be if there were more people like this in the world?
    Thanks for sharing this….it is truly inspirational.

    • Thank you so much, the players were just the sweetest and my son was so excited. I can’t thank them enough.

  20. This post is very well written and extremely touching. I have been an ND fan my entire life as has nearly every member of my family. We’ve followed the Irish through rough seasons, but never lost faith in their abilities. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Thank you! Yes they have had ups and downs, but in the end they are a wonderful team that puts service and strength of character ahead of wins. I think even now with all that’s going on in the news this last week shows that ND does that.

  21. Oh Alyson, this is the BEST! All teary-eyed and goopy over here — but smiling because those football players made such a big difference for your kid! AWESOME!


  1. […] son forged a friendship with two Notre Dame football players that came to our house for some burgers and ended up helping him announce to the world he has […]